Ping Pong Ltd is a high quality restaurant group specialising in Chinese Dim Sum. With restaurants in Europe, Middle East, North & South America, Ping Pong is a globally recognised brand. Kurt established the Ping Pong restaurant chain from start up with the original vision of delivering high quality Asian cuisine to central London for £15 per head.As the founder and owner, Kurt not only developed the concept, he formulated the business models as well as entry-to-market strategy, he also secured the investment required to make the concept a reality.It was during his time at Nobu that Kurt first began to appreciate the huge appeal and practical potential of dim sum.
For a Nobu Christmas party one year, he brought in dim sum from a restaurant in Chinatown as an appetising but convenient food that all the staff could enjoy after the restaurant had closed for the night. Used to the lengthy preparation that Nobu’s intricate cuisine entailed, he watched with admiration as an assortment of pre-made dim sum was taken out of trays and quickly steamed in special baskets. Within twenty minutes of closing, the restaurant’s staff were sitting down to enjoy a delicious but surprisingly inexpensive feast.If that night first sparked off the germ of the idea that would eventually evolve into Ping Pong, Nobu’s rapidly expanding business provided Kurt with plenty of examples of the huge opportunities that lay in the kind of rationalisation and efficient logistics that are now cornerstones of the Ping Pong business."Stylish and sexy, this place serves dim sum all day at equally attractive prices. There’s no booking, just join the queue and feast away" Feast LondonIn June 2004, at a time when Nobu London was enjoying record profitability, Kurt resigned in order to develop his own idea for a group of restaurants that would pioneer modern dim sum – an idea that has now become reality as Ping Pong.
Kurt not only identified and secured the premises but he assembled the creative team, recruited and trained the senior management, sourced the kitchen and font-of-house teams; and embedded brand strategy.As you'd expect from someone with Kurts insight into modern day dining this ancient Chinese tea house tradition was given a 21st Century makeover with his vision of dim sum restaurants.His dim sum menu incorporates popular dishes of old, as well as new varieties. The amount of creative input and attention to detail Kurt and his team invested into creating the dark modern, sexy interiors, all the restaurant aesthetics are truly breathtaking.Even with A list clientele including Danii Minouge, David Schwimmer and Kate Winslet, more importantly Ping Pong was intended to be a good deal more accessible than some of its illustrious peers –Kurt implemented a no reservation policy with a low average spent to match.
"Ping Pong is to Yauatcha what MiuMiu is to Prada" – Toby YoungThe Dim Sum menu was designed to be served quickly and be easy to eat, but it definitely isn’t fast food. Everything on the menu is hand made from fresh ingredients every day by specialist Dim Sum chefs. No machine could replicate their extraordinary skill.Kurt managed the cost base, and therefore the prices by manufacturing the food off-site. This not only reduced the fixed costs, but also the food costs and reduced the back / front-of-house ratio successfully thus increasing the number of customers per restaurant.The first restaurant opened within 9 months (2005) and was profitable within its first 4 months – an achievement rarely managed in the restaurant business.
Two further restaurants opened in 2005, 3 more in 2006 with 2 in 2007 bringing the total portfolio to 8 profitable restaurants within 18 months.Kurt says "A Ping Pong restaurant is a modern take on a very ancient Chinese tradition. Hundreds of years ago, merchants on the Silk Road would stop at tea houses en route to rest their weary feet, relax and drink tea with their fellow travellers and share Dim Sum – baskets and dishes of little sweet and savoury snacks, usually steamed, baked or fried. We’ve kept all the best bits of that ancient tradition, like meeting to relax and share appetizing food and fragrant tea. We just thought that after the first thousand years or so, it would be OK to add cocktails to the menu".