October 15, 2008 // Franchising.com // Washington, D.C.,— Vapiano has secured an agreement with University of Houston graduate student, Soomyee Song, studying at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, to open five units throughout Houston, Texas. Vapiano, the innovative fast casual restaurant and lounge, has exploded in popularity across Europe and the U.S. and recently announced new deals in exciting markets such as Detroit, Atlanta and Dallas. After winning Nation's Restaurant News' 2008 'Hot Concept!' award and the 2006 European Hot Concept Award from Food Service Europe & Middle East, Vapiano has continued to amplify its momentum and shows no sign of slowing. Currently, Vapiano has four U.S. locations open in Washington, DC and Ft. Myers, Florida with more than 30 restaurants worldwide.
Song and husband Eugene, a marketing executive with LG Electronics are looking to open their first location in the Galleria area and then plan to move to major neighborhoods throughout the Houston area including Woodland, Sugarland and Champion Forest. Song's first restaurant should be up and running by June 2009, right after her graduation from the University of Houston, and all five should be open by 2014.
Song grew up in Germany and has been a long-time fan of Vapiano since spending her summers there. "After growing up in Germany, I moved to Korea. It wasn't until I came to the U.S. for my husband's job that I heard Vapiano was franchising in the states," says Song. "I immediately looked into the opportunity because of my love and passion for the concept. After working in consulting for quite some time, I took a chance and enrolled in graduate school to fulfill my dream of working in the restaurant and hospitality industry."
Song's deal will add to more than 80 new Vapiano units already in development throughout the next four to eight years, expanding its presence in North America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The company launched its operations to the U.S. less than one year ago, opening a head office in McLean, Virginia and three restaurants in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Vapiano plans to open a fourth restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2008 and welcomed its first Florida location in Ft. Myers this past July. At only five years old, the young company is preparing to triple in size.
Currently Vapiano International operates nearly 35 restaurants in nine countries and expects to open 20 new locations by the end of 2008. In the U.S. alone the company has closed deals for six stores in Southwest Florida, ten in Dallas, three in Boston and three stores in Detroit, Michigan and Atlanta, Georgia. New international locations are in the making throughout Estonia, South Poland, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, UAE, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Omar and Qatar. Open international locations include 21 in Germany and one in Belgium, Estonia, London, The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
Vapiano recently appeared in Fast Casual Magazine's list of 'Movers and Shakers,' while Kent Hahne was named a finalist for CMO of the Year by Booz Allen Hamilton in 2007.
Vapiano is an innovative, fast casual European concept serving made-to-order fire roasted pizzas, fresh, house-made pasta and hand tossed gourmet salads. Vapiano continues to garner global attention for their approach to dining – dishes are prepared at high temperature exhibition style wok stations, fresh herbs adorn each table and a unique chip card payment system rounds out each diner's ultra-modern experience. The restaurant's pioneering self-service technology and unmistakable upscale décor has created a huge customer fan base and helped fuel the company's worldwide expansion. Restaurants are 5,000-8,000 square feet and seat 150 or so guests.
For information on franchising with Vapiano please visit www.vapiano.com or contact Alexandra Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-837-5168.