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Why Is One of London’s Most Respected Restaurant Groups Opening in Qatar?

JKS is bringing Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers to the state that will soon host the World Cup, and whose human rights record is under the microscope

A Sri Lankan spread of hoppers, curries and sambals at Hoppers, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London
A Sri Lankan spread of hoppers, curries and sambals at Hoppers
Hoppers/Official photo

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.

Behind

20 Sidworth St, Hackney, London , E8 3SD

Gymkhana

42 Albemarle Street, , England W1S 4JH 020 3011 5900 Visit Website

London

, , England Visit Website

Trishna

15-17 Blandford Street, , England W1U 3DG 020 7935 5624 Visit Website

Bao

83 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, Ville-Marie, QC H2Z 1C2 (514) 875-1388

Arcade Food Hall

103-105 New Oxford Street, , England WC1A 1DB Visit Website

Hoppers

77 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1QE Visit Website

Brigadiers

1-5 Bloomberg Arcade, , England EC4N 8AR 020 3319 8140 Visit Website

Berenjak

27 Romilly Street, , England W1D 5AL 020 3319 8120 Visit Website

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