Louis Vuitton jumped into the restaurant business Saturday with the opening of Le Café V and Sugalabo V inside its new flagship store in Osaka, Japan.
The high-end eateries sit atop Vuitton’s latest east Asian venue, the Louis Vuitton Maison Osaka Midosuji. The restaurants’ menus were curated by chef Yosuke “Suga” Sugalabo whose self-titled 20-table Tokyo restaurant was named one of the best in the world by the French restaurant ranking guide La Liste.
Louis Vuitton is the latest luxury line to debut a high-end eatery at one of its flagships. Ralph Lauren opened its first restaurant, the RL, in Chicago in 1999, according to Reuters. Since then, the American designer has launched additional locations in New York, Paris, Chicago and London.
Tiffany’s Blue Box Café premiered at the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York City in 2017 and thrived before shutting down for renovations last November. The eatery, which is set to re-open next year, is regarded as an innovative success for the iconic American jeweler when it was striving to update its image.
The Louis Vuitton restaurant fits within a broader strategy of struggling retailers looking to lure shoppers away from their laptops and into brick-and-mortar stores, said Luca Solca, managing director of luxury goods research at Sanford C. Bernstein Schweiz.
Nordstrom’s New York City location, which opened in October, has seven restaurants, far more than the its usual one or two per store. Athletic apparel maker Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and Crate & Barrel all have opened restaurants recently.
“It all goes in the direction of fueling in-store traffic,” Solca told CNN Business. “A restaurant can be a meeting point where you often go and spend time. I guess Osaka is a city important enough, but not vital, where such an experiment can be conducted safely.”
The Louis Vuitton store’s massive showroom was designed with a Japanese nautical theme by architects Jun Aoki and Peter Marino to celebrate Osaka’s sea-faring history. Its facade is designed to look like a series of white sails, giving the location the look and feel of a traditional Japanese cargo ship.
“This new four-floor store reflects Osaka’s heritage as Japan’s most important port and highlight’s the city’s growing role as an international travel hub,” the company said in a written announcement.
East Asia is a critical market for major luxury brands, including LVMH. CEO Bernard Arnault told the Nikkei Asian Review that the conglomerate’s brands have enjoyed success in Japan, in part, because Japanese customers have a high sense of quality.
“For us, as a luxury group, the Japanese customer is very important,” Arnault said.