Money Making Restaurants


It was announced last week that Tao Las Vegas was the highest grossing restaurant in the US. How much did it gross?

According to the NY Times

In 2006, its first full year open, Tao did $55.2 million in business, or $16 million more than its closest competitor, Tavern on the Green in New York.

Even judged against other huge-volume restaurants, where revenues in the tens of millions are not unusual, Tao is setting a new standard. In figures for 2000, when Tavern on the Green was in the No. 2 spot behind Windows on the World, the gap between them was a razor thin $485,000.

Michael Desiderio, the chief operating officer of Tavern on the Green, marvels at the vital statistics for Tao Las Vegas: it served 600,000 meals, its average dinner check was $70, and 50 percent of its revenues came from alcohol.

“It’s really a nightclub with the food to complement the club,” Mr. Desiderio said.

Here’s the rest of the best.

  1. Tao Las Vegas Restaurant & Nightclub, Las Vegas
  2. Tavern on the Green, New York City
  3. Joe’s Stone Crab, Miami Beach
  4. Tao Asian Bistro, New York City
  5. Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, D.C.
  6. Gibsons Bar Steakhouse, Chicago
  7. Bob Chinn’s Crab House, Wheeling, Ill.
  8. Mix In Las Vegas, Las Vegas
  9. Fulton’s Crab House, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  10. “21” Club, New York City

For many years, New York’s Tavern on the Green was the top earner, which sometimes alternated with the city’s Windows on the World (and The Russian Tea Room was often on the list as well). While New York restaurants gross more, Las Vegas will likely become the top earning city by next year. Also, while American, seafood, and steak still reign supreme, pan-Asian themed restaurants comprise number one and four in the top ten.

Does this imply America’s palate is ever more sophisticated? Not so much. Very high-end restaurants are either at the bottom of the list, like New York’s Daniel (#65), or do not even appear (French Laundry and Per Se do not make the cut). So, it appears if you want to make a killing opening a restaurant (which is an unusual happenstance), you need to focus on liquor and expensive seafood and steaks. Those chefs who are artists will remain respected, but not necessarily rich. (from Epicurious)

And apparently if you name you’re restaurant Tao, you’re destined to be in the Top 10.

Photo from Flickr.


6 comments so far

  1. Jim on

    Since I’m heading to Vegas in a couple weeks, maybe I should check this Tao place out–I do wonder, though, what percentage of their profits come from inflated prices, especially if they serve sushi. What would be dirt-cheap in a coastal city becomes pretty pricey when they have to fly it into the middle of a desert.

  2. cincodemayo1 on

    Good point, but I don’t think they’ll inflate prices too much.

    That said, I do think they’ll remain competitive with upscale restaurants/clubs of the same caliber, especially in Vegas.

    So you’ll probably pay a bit more than your usual sushi bar.

    Actually, prices don’t look too bad at all.

  3. SteamyKitchen on

    Looks like being a crab restaurant is the ticket to success.

  4. sturgo on

    I think it would probably be cheaper to fly to southeast Asia and eat there.

  5. ml305 on

    Just a point that Joe’s was at one point the top earner in the world for a restaurant that was only open 6 months a year due to Stone Crab season. They have decided to now have limited summer hours with a summer menu, but for a restaurant to lose it’s main entree for 6 months a year, and still finish in the top 3, the outcome is endless if Crabs were fresh daily 365.

  6. Estetik on

    that’s really cool.

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