Star East Group launches flagship show-business venue

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 1999, 12:00am

Star East Group - a management firm whose clients include most of Hong Kong's top show-business personalities - has launched a Planet Hollywood-style flagship restaurant in Central it hopes will be replicated across the Chinese-speaking world.

The new 25,000 square foot, $50 million restaurant in the basement of the Bank of America Tower is to be the template for Star East's franchise restaurant enterprise.

'Hopefully, wherever there are Chinese people who recognise and can identify with our stars, there will be a Star East restaurant,' Andrew Chan Chak-mo, executive director of business development, said.

The launch comes two months after a dispute with its first franchisee almost sunk the entire venture before it began.

The Star East restaurant theme has had a tough journey from drawing board to implementation following a series of financial and legal disputes with previous Singaporean partner Grande Entertainment Group, which planned to open restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia last year.

The two have now officially split, with Grande losing the rights to use the Star East name.

At present, Star East has one mainland franchisee - with a restaurant in Guangzhou and another opening this month in Chengdu - who paid $2 million for a licence.

They will pay 7 per cent of turnover in royalties to Star East.

Chaired by long-time canto-pop star Alan Tam Wing-lun and headed by film star Nat Chan Pak-cheung, kung fu superstar Jacky Chan and Eric Tsang Chi-wei, Star East has more than 80 local entertainment workers under contract.

Star East said its hold over its stars was what would give it immunity to the economic downturn gripping Asia and the slide in popularity of rival Planet Hollywood.

'We have put in place an incentive scheme for our stars to come and visit the restaurants on a more frequent basis,' Mr Chan said.

According to the scheme, some dividend and bonus payouts at year-end will reflect the number of visits to restaurants, as well as the distance of the restaurant from Hong Kong.

'That's partly what sets us apart from Planet Hollywood.

'They've got a few stars who show up for the opening and that's it - our stars will actually service our franchisees' restaurants,' Mr Chan said.