Dining Fad Going Celebrity in Glossy Moscow

Celebrity restaurants, long a fixture of New York and London, and now in Russian.

Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities where dining out can cost more than an average monthly mortgage bill in the rest of the world, is very much about showing off.

Gloss, glitter and gold are not only regular themes for the fashion-conscious Muscovites, but often dictate the decor of spaces, public and private alike.

The recent opening of a Moscow venue by a home-grown filmmaker raising the tally of eateries and bars backed by artists, actors, socialites.

Andrei Konchalovsky, a veteran director known in the West for his Hollywood movies, such as “Runaway Train” and “Tango and Cash,” opened the art-deco style Yornik restaurant with his wife Yuliya Vysotskaya earlier this month.

Ernik” is located in the very center of Moscow on the crossroads of Bolshaya Gruzinskaya and Brestskaya streets and is drawing in visitors thanks to its large terrace and unusual name, which means a rake, a mischief-maker, a non-conformist.

This followed the September opening of Chemodan, an eatery inspired by Siberia‘s hearty cooking and owned by Oleg Menshikov, an actor famous for his role in the 1994 Oscar-winning film “Burned by the Sun.”

The venues give the celebrity restaurant fad a local flavor and follow a wave of importing famous restaurants that have already made their names elsewhere, such as Nobu.

Vadim Irushkin of Restaurants Rating, a restaurant booking and information company based in Moscow, said the trend is visible, but that celebrities are not always the sole owners.

“Big restaurant companies (also) invite famous people to be the ‘first faces’,” he said. “We get a lot of requests to book tables in such places, because many people are interested in the dolce vita lifestyle,” Irushkin said. “Sometimes people don’t think about the food in these restaurants, it is more about being seen than anything else.”

Those ventures are backed by the restaurant company The Ginza Project, which is also behind dozens of so-called “concept” restaurants in Moscow.

Russia‘s largest casual dining chain operator Rosinter, estimates the country’s dining market value this year at 550 million roubles ($17.64 million), with Moscow‘s share at 40% of the total.


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