Deadly Rabbits Concepts Founders on Cooking F&B Success
Hong Kong/Venture/Profiles

Deadly Rabbits Concepts Founders Dish on their HK Success Story

Header Deadly Rabbits Concepts Founders Dish on the Ingredients to their Success Photo by Deadly Rabbits Concepts

A dash of humour, generous amounts of delicious cooking, and hard work for good measure — these are the key ingredients to the quick-rise and ongoing success of Deadly Rabbits Concepts.

The Deadly Rabbits experience is detail and quality oriented, with a friendly feel that invites diners of all persuasions to feel welcomed in the open and comforting space. Having mastered the always popular Italian cuisine with Ask for Alonzo’s success (spread across five Hong Kong Island venues), left an imprint of Central European cuisine in Tai Hang with Porkcentric, and fused fun Japanese flair into sandwiches at Don Sando, it’s no secret that the group has managed to take up some prime real estate — both metaphorical and literal — in the Hong Kong F&B space.

Informed by years of professional experience in the culinary and F&B consulting scene, and travels around the world, mainly led by palate, Deadly Rabbits Concepts founders Bart Szyniec and Giuliano Dacasto dish out on their bustling expansion over the past few years, and their sights for the success to come.

Deadly Rabbits Concepts Founders Dish on their HK Success Story
Deadly Rabbits Concepts

How would you define the central messaging and idea behind Deadly Rabbits?

[We were] inspired by Monty Python and the absurd sense of humour common in both Poland and Italy. Obviously, we didn’t want to be too “serious.” F&B should be a fun industry, and we tried to express it via our logo and name.

What brought you two together along your respective culinary and operations journeys to create the Deadly Rabbits group?

We both started at Aqua TST back on Peking Road on the same day: Bart became a manager, and Giuliano became a head chef, fresh off his travels with motivation to start something new. We have spent nearly two years together, and we’ve started talking about our first restaurant together. It was supposed to be an Italian place (of course!) on High Street, but we were still too fresh in Hong Kong, and we wanted to know the market better.

Our paths crossed over again in 2018, 2019, and the rest is history. We first opened Ask for Alonzo in Quarry Bay, and now we have five locations across Hong Kong Island.

What is lacking in Hong Kong’s F&B industry right now that you hope to solve or introduce with Deadly Rabbits Concepts?

We don’t like to talk about our future projects too much, but we have something surprising up our sleeves!

We think the value for money segment is still promising. Influenced by our first days in Hong Kong, Bart found it a shock to go for a pasta dinner and have to end up spending over HK$1000! That is something that we thought about when designing the Ask for Alonzo menu, which has a decent size of varieties, allowing you to come back during COVID-19 lockdowns to eat good food without repeating options.

Healthy and vegetarian food will remain in the focus. We are constantly reassessing the market, as it is very dynamic in Hong Kong. This year, in particular, should be interesting. We all hope for F&B recovery this year, which should bring new opportunities across the board.

From a Chef’s perspective, Giuliano, what are Hong Kong eaters seeking out from the F&B scene right now?

I have always loved Asian food; Chinese cooking, in particular, has long been high on the list. I didn’t find it difficult to adapt as I gained experience working with the team and reading. In fact, there are quite some similarities between the Central European cuisines our Deadly Rabbits concepts offer and common Chinese dishes. There is a feeling of approachability in the food for locals. To compare, the perfect ravioli is a lot like a wonton!

Deadly Rabbits Concepts Founders Dish on their HK Success Story
Deadly Rabbits Concepts

How did you approach business decision-making amidst the pandemic? What were considerations that didn’t exist before?

The safety of our staff and customers was the number one focus, but pretty much everything was new and very dynamic. We were very lucky that we have started in a small place — with 14 seats — so we were already strong with takeaways, deliveries, and catering. That was our drive during the pandemic, especially during dinner dine-in bans.

Having such a small place meant having to be creative in driving turnover. Thanks to the foundations we established already, we only had to focus on ‘improving’ operations rather than reinventing the wheel. We secured returning customers, and our concepts were able to be hubs for comfort food that existed as micro-communities of their own in each neighbourhood. That’s what helped us outshine competition.

On the other hand, what are considerations that you no longer had to think about?

Dinner service during lockdowns? There was a lot to always think about over the past four years, basically throughout since we’ve started our company. We are very excited to be on the Hong Kong F&B map, we didn’t waste our time during the pandemic. We ended up with six outlets out of it.

Finally, what’s in store for the future of Deadly Rabbits Concepts?

Holidays? In terms of work, the focus is on consolidation right now. With six locations, going from two employees to a team of 70 and counting, we’ve become a mid-sized company and definitely need to adapt to that. We are very happy with the outcome of Ask for Alonzo on Star Street, which we’ve been waiting to share for the past two years while absorbing Hong Kong’s overall recovery. We will be looking into bringing Ask for Alonzo to Kowloon and New Territories side in the next couple of years.

We are also working on something new of course, always — but it is too early to share details! We think that in the past four years, we were so focused on not only surviving the tough market, but also expanding. The time has come for us to get some rest and look at our restaurants from the outside. Knowing ourselves, we would imagine after that we will only speed up and not slow down. Consolidation is important to keep things running well and to maintain success, alongside, travel is also very important for inspiration and new ideas or energy.

We survived the ‘wars’, and we are open for 2023. We are excited that the pandemic is finished, and we really, really, hope that Hong Kong will come back to its former glory. We have no doubt it will. It’s just a matter of time.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Learn more about Deadly Rabbits Concepts here, and keep updated with them on Instagram at @deadlyrabbitsconcepts.

Keep up with their concepts via Instagram at: @askforalonzo , @porkcentric & @donsandohk.

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