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Thursday, November 4, 2023

Miami-based Kyu Asian BBQ to open in NY backed by Reuben brothers

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An acclaimed, Miami-based Asian barbecue joint will open its first outpost in Manhattan this holiday season — and it will come complete with a family of controversial, deep-pocketed owners from overseas.

Kyu — which first opened in Miami’s Wynwood district in 2016, and quickly gained notoriety for its grilled meats, sashimi and cocktails — plans to open a massive restaurant in lower Manhattan’s Noho neighborhood before Christmas, Side Dish has learned.

The new Kyu will be located at 324 Lafayette St. in a 5,700-square-foot space formerly occupied by Bobby Flay’s Mediterranean restaurant Gato, which shuttered during the pandemic. The executive chef will be Raheem Sealey, formerly of Zuma and Pao. 

It’s the latest in a string of bold, risky bets on New York’s wobbly restaurant scene by the Reuben Brothers — a London-based private equity and real estate firm run by Simon and David Reuben, a pair of octogenarian, billionaire brothers.

Increasingly, the face of the Reuben Brothers empire is David Reuben’s 34-year-old son Jamie, who last month made headlines for partnering with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, still under fire for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, to buy UK soccer team Newcastle United. Jamie is a 10% owner of the team while a a Saudi sovereign wealth fund chaired by MBS owns 80%.

Jamie Reuben
David Reuben’s 34-year-old son Jamie, pictured, is increasingly the face of the Reuben Brothers’ empire.
Dave Benett/Getty Images

The crown prince has denied the charges, and the BBC has noted that he has made similar investments in companies like Disney, Uber, Starbucks and Facebook.

Although based in London, Jamie spends a lot of time in New York, where he owns a $7.7 million Bond Street condo downtown. Jamie is the “most significant investor” in Zero Bond, a new private club downtown, sources tell Side Dish.

He also helped spearhead the Reuben Brothers’ $2.5 billion US spending spree during the pandemic. In New York, that included a deal to buy the bankrupt Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side and to bring in celebrity hangout Casa Tua and a separate, private club, as Side Dish exclusively reported. The Surrey is slated to open in 2023, sources say. 

Bobby Flay's new restaurant Gato is located at 324 Lafayette Street, Manhattan
The new location of Kyu will be in the now-closed Gato, Bobby Flay’s former restaurant at 324 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.
Brian Zak

Meanwhile, the Reuben Brothers plan to turn an 88,000 square foot Union Square building they bought for $39.5 million at 14-16 E. 16th St. into a hotel, which now has the “holding name” of Union. 

The swanky destination will have a spa and a restaurant open to the public on the ground floor, along with a private members club on the second floor and a private rooftop lounge. It will open in 2023. 

However, the hotel will no longer house “5 Hertford Street Club,” known as 5H — a club for British and Hollywood royals and Middle Eastern sheikhs and where Prince Harry famously met Meghan Markle. 

Instead, sources tell Side Dish that the Reubens are looking to house it in a new and as yet undisclosed space on the Upper East Side. The club will be run by Robin Birley, with the Reuben Brothers as the landlords, just like in London, sources say. 

The Reuben brothers during the pandemic closed on a deal that included a deal to buy the bankrupt Surrey Hotel on the Upper East Side.
Courtesy of The Surrey Hotel

The Times of London has called Jamie “probably Britain’s most eligible bachelor.” Kim Kardashian attended his birthday party bash in Beverly Hills. 

Reuben has also gotten into politics, donating around $1 million to the Conservative Party. He socializes with Conservative Party bigwigs like Ben Elliott, Prince Charles’ step-nephew, and co-chaired Boris Johnson’s 2012 mayoral reelection campaign. 

A spokesperson for the Reuben Brothers declined to comment on Kyu’s New York launch.

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