Why the move from restaurants to hotels?
Robert De Niro
I was already saying to everybody, if why are we always asked to go into a hotel or some complex or condo situation, why are we not doing it ourselves? They’re asking us to go in to give then a certain cachet a certain credibility, let’s try it for ourselves. So, you know, that’s it and that’s what we did. We started saying to people in different places that we thought would be good to have a Nobu Hotel and a Nobu Restaurant, we’re not going to do that. We’ll do a hotel but we’re not going to do that. We got pushed back and we would say no, we are the ones that are being asked and we should have an opportunity to see how that works.
How do the restaurant and hotel offering differ?
Already, we have the two restaurants in London, but with the hotel concept we have breakfast and room service. The menus still have all the signature dishes, but at the different locations we tailor slightly different menus. Especially with the hotels, we cater for gluten-free and vegans. Already, we have Las Vegas, Miami, Manilla, Ryokan Malibu, Marbella and Ibiza. So, already we have the breakfast, room service and banquets on the menu so now it’s in London we have it here. Of course, this is the first Nobu Hotel in Europe, and I am so excited to continue to grow like we have with Nobu Shoreditch.
You look at a room, and you think do you want to walk in to that room or not?
Robert, obviously, you travel in a lot of hotels through your career, what makes a hotel special?
Robert De Niro
Well I like hotels that have a warmth and it’s also the staff how they are. You look at a room, and you think do you want to walk in to that room or not? And so, it’s that simple for me. And with details, you can tell sometimes when people are cutting corners with costs. You know it’s like a movie. When you do a movie, the producers keep telling you should you really be doing that, do you need that, so you shrink things down, you cut corners and eventually it all adds up to being less than what it should be.
It’s the way I feel about hotels and doing them. I’ve stayed in some great hotels and I would like these to be the same. Nobu Hotels are different, it’s a different style.
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How have you brought elements of Shoreditch to the hotel?
We like to go out and meet the locals naturally, to try and bring the locals in to the hotel. That’s the most important thing for us, to try and create the hotel as a local place. That’s what we’re trying to do now, we’ve only just opened, and it’s taking time but the stage really for us is the Nobu restaurant and we try and get the locals in to the restaurant. Also, with regards to our bar operation we like to bring people as well and have special nights and so forth.
Another aspect is events. We don’t have an events space in our other two restaurants in London, so we try and bring events in to the hotel as well. You could have local weddings, you could have business events.
Robert, do you offer ideas towards the menu offering?
Robert De Niro
Everything Nobu does is great, so there are things that I haven’t even tried yet, that I have to be a little more adventurous. I usually have the things that I like, unless I am with Nobu and he is like try this and try that. The only thing that I contributed was, before we opened the restaurant, I was in Brazil, in Sao Paolo and there’s a whole big Japanese community there. They had these wooden boxes for cold sake and so when we started the restaurant, I said ‘Nobu have you heard about this? I said how about Cold Sake.’ That’s it,that I can think of.
You can open a place and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter who you are.
Are there any misconceptions in regards to Japanese food?
Now it is a Japanese restaurant, it has transpired to all over the world because of the quality, the very clean flavour, very simple, and tasty. Then, most importantly, I am Japanese, I grow up and start being a chef when I was 17/18, and always I am travelling and stay in the hotel and see the guests and how they are eating. They are very happy. People want sushi and sashimi, and sake is very popular now, all over the world. Like how trends and fashions start. People try Japanese food and they like it, so the trend continues.
You have a lot of loyal celebrity clientele, why do you think they love your establishments?
Robert De Niro
You can open a place and I’ve had that experience. You can open a place and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter who you are. They come in once and twice, and then that’s it. I mean it’s all because of Nobu and how he runs his great food and it’s that simple. You can get them in the door once or twice, and after that it doesn’t mean a thing.