Upscale BOA Bucks the Recession

If opening any type of food and beverage venue in today’s economic climate seems like it would be tricky, opening an upscale steakhouse seems like it might be downright impossible. But for the minds behind BOA Sunset, the newest BOA Steakhouse location in West Hollywood, Calif., the only thing that’s proven difficult is keeping enough staff on hand.

“We are constantly having to add additional staff with how busy we have been,” says Lee Maen, founding member and general partner of Innovative Dining Group, which also holds claim to five Sushi Roku locations, two other BOA Steakhouses, Robata Bar and Katana. Business has been “off the charts” since opening in mid-June, he says, crediting an ideal location as the “gateway to West Hollywood” from neighboring Beverly Hills. “It gives our guests the opportunity to have a Sunset Strip experience without the traffic of being farther East. It’s truly a landmark location.”

But ultimately, the restaurant’s success stems from finding its niche — Maen’s advice for anyone looking to open a venue at any time, especially now. “Make sure you have something to separate yourself from the competition,” he recommends.

BOA’s positioning is as a more contemporary version of the steakhouse, starting first with its menu. When the first BOA opened in 2001, it sought to appeal to women — a demographic oft-ignored by the traditional steakhouse concept. “BOA’s diverse menu, which includes a variety of healthful non-beef dishes, offers something for everybody,” he says. BOA Sunset also offers combo lunches, salads and seafood options to cater to a variety of palates.

Plus, the 13,000-square-foot space features two private dining rooms; a cocktail lounge, “The Club Room,” which features tables that flip over and become backgammon tables; 4,000 square feet of outdoor dining space; a glass wine cellar boasting 4,000 bottles; and one of the world’s largest collections of rare international spirits, including Kentucky moonshine that has remained unopened since Prohibition and a precursor to Goldschläger that dates back to World War II. The extensive liquor collection was created to feed consumers’ demands for a wide variety of spirits, as well as to give their eyes something to feast on — an impressive display of art, Maen explains.

And BOA Sunset also seems to feed consumers’ demands in fine dining. “I think we have done something very unique in Los Angeles and are reaping the benefits,” Maen declares.


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