JKS Restaurants, the respected group behind cult and Michelin-starred restaurants Gymkhana, Trishna, Brigadiers, Berenjak, Bao, and Arcade Food Hall has taken its casual Sri Lankan brand Hoppers to Doha in the state of Qatar. The brand says it is the first step in its pursuit of a “growth strategy” in the Middle East. According to Big Hospitality, the restaurant opened in the last week of October in Barahat Msheireb, downtown Doha.
Chef and restaurateur Karan Gokani leads Hoppers in London, but Eater understands that JKS has licensed the brand to a third-party operator in the region, which will manage the day-to-day operations and look to open further sites in the Arabian Gulf. Brand direction and creative decisions will continue to be overseen by JKS, but it will have no direct involvement in the running of the restaurants.
“International growth has been on our radar from a growth perspective for some time now,” a JKS spokesperson told Eater by email. “The hospitality sector in the Middle East is going through a significant phase of development and we are fortunate that many of our restaurants have a strong following from this part of the world.”
With Qatar’s human rights record, criminalisation of homosexuality, and death of migrant workers under the microscope ahead of the World Cup this winter, JKS’s spokesperson said it acknowledged that there were “sensitivities with regards to Qatar.”
“As a matter of practice, we do not endorse the policies or political leanings of any country we operate in,” it added. “Our partners have been carefully selected based on a shared vision of how restaurants should be run in terms of the quality of food, service, hospitality, and experience, and how the people working in our restaurants should be looked after.”
The spokesperson did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about fundamental human rights being denied in the region.
Hoppers launched on Frith Street in Soho in 2015, before expanding to Marylebone in 2017 and King’s Cross three years later.