RIGA - The popular Latvian chain restaurant Double Coffee has just announced the opening of its first franchise in China. Latvian ambassador to China Ingrida Levrence opened the restaurant, which is located in the modern shopping district of Beijing in the "Village at Sanlitun."
Originally the opening of the restaurant was planned for July 2008, to coincide with the launch of another franchise in China, but plans were put on hold due to financial problems.
"We had hoped that it would work out to open before the Olympic Games, but because of bureaucracy it didn't work out," said Beijing Marketing Director Aleksandrs Fedorinovs.
The company in December 2008 had been hoping to open franchises in markets less affected by the financial crisis.
"One of the factors behind expanding into other countries is because there is less of a demand now. Belarus and Ukraine are also touched by the crisis, but there people aren't as focused on the negative things and are more optimistic," said Fedorinovs.
Double Coffee is opening another restaurant franchise in Beijing later this month. The company plans to open four or five restaurants each year to add to their franchise in Beijing. The company plans to open restaurants in other Chinese cities as well.
Erik Teilans, manager of the Double Coffee Management Beijing Co. Ltd., told reporters that by the end of the year the company plans on opening at least two more restaurants in the region, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.
With their signature newspaper-style menus, the restaurant plans on serving the same cuisine in China, including the breakfast items. The restaurant also has plans to incorporate local cuisine into their menus.
It is still unknown whether the restaurant will sell their freshly ground coffee as well. After implementation of the idea in 2007, the company had hoped to gain at least 10 percent of the coffee market in Latvia with hopes of reaching 25 percent in the future.
Double Coffee, listed as one of Europe's 500 fastest-growing enterprises, opened its doors in 2002 in Riga and has since spread to Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and now China.
There are currently over 40 Double Coffee establishments throughout Eastern Europe.
During its first year of business, Double Coffee was named Best Merchant of Riga and Best Merchant of Latvia.