Mad for Garlic Expands Overseas
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Popular Italian wine bistro Mad for Garlic will soon be taking its signature garlic-infused pizza and pasta dishes overseas this year.
Mad for Garlic, one of the restaurants operated by the Korean-owned Sun@Food company, has already opened its first branch in Singapore in late December, and will soon be opening its first outlet in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The company is also planning to open restaurants in Shanghai and Hawaii later this year or early next year, Ryan Shin, Sun@Food division director, told The Korea Times.
Mad for Garlic has attracted Korean diners with its unusual take on Italian cuisine. Its menu features favorites such as pasta and pizza, but the recipes have been tweaked to focus on garlic as a main ingredient. Thanks to the restaurant's special recipes and preparation, the garlic's pungent smell and spicy taste have been reduced but the health benefits are retained.
Sun@Food chief executive officer Caroline Nam on Tuesday signed a master franchise agreement with Mas Millennium chief executive officer Lucy Prananto, which allows the latter to open Mad for Garlic restaurants in Indonesia.
``I firmly believe the timing is perfect for Mad for Garlic to be introduced in the Indonesian market. With a pool of affluent Indonesians and a growing number of high-spending middle class consumers who are constantly looking out for good food in a cozy ambience, and Mad for Garlic's new concept combined with Mas Millennium's expertise in the Indonesian market, I am confident Mad for Garlic will be a huge success in Jakarta,'' Prananto said during the signing ceremony.
Mad for Garlic is the first of Sun@Food's restaurants to be exported overseas, and the agreement with Mas Millennium is seen as a vote of confidence for the restaurant brand.
The agreement will allow Mas Millennium to open three Mad for Garlic outlets in Indonesia within five years. Mas Millennium currently operates Tony Roma's branches in six Asian countries, Australia and Germany, as well as California Pizza Kitchen branches in four countries.
Shin said Mas Millennium officials were impressed with Mad for Garlic's menu during their visits to Seoul, and proposed to franchise the restaurant overseas.
It is not hard to imagine why Mad for Garlic appeals to international diners. Shin expressed confidence that the restaurant's concept of introducing light, healthy Italian dishes with garlic will appeal to health-conscious diners. ``Garlic is a healthy ingredient, and everyone is concerned about their health these days,'' he said.
Usually, Korean restaurants abroad appeal mainly to overseas Koreans, but since Mad for Garlic serves Italian food, it can cater to a broader market.
Mad for Garlic, which opened its first branch in Apgujeong in 2001, offers over 40 garlic-specialized Italian dishes, along with over 100 wines. Some of the dishes are Garlicpeno Pasta, Triple Garlic Pasta, Garlic and Sweet Potato Pizza, Garlic Snowing Pizza and Garlic Butter Shrimp.
Sun@Food is a leading company in the Korean dining market. Its other restaurants include barbeque rib house Tony Roma's, pasta chains Spaghettia and Spaghettia Classico, Korean food Bistro Seoul Morac and traditional Neapolitan-style restaurant Via di Napoli.