“I was born in 1964 in Israel and grew up in food and beverage, due to my family’s business. While I was later on focusing for more than two decades on retail, I never lost sight of the food and beverage industry and eventually returned to it.
“I originally went to Vietnam with the thought of slowing down my overall activities, but to enjoy an exciting emerging market. I then recognized that I was not ready for some sort of retirement and sought for a new challenge and this was returning to my roots and my original passion, the food and beverage business. Vietnam, and in particular Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, quickly and successfully developed with three restaurants within not even two years and with that came the decision to develop the restaurant chain in Thailand as well. All El Gaucho restaurants are running under local companies of which I am the owner.”
Regarding his concept and design of the restaurants and connection to Argentina, Mr Himi said: “It is my aim to establish the benchmark in Southeast Asia for a contemporary, specialized steakhouse concept. I am serving best quality products, pairing steakhouse classics with a modern approach and creating an overall high service, wine and dine experience in a down-to-earth environment with some playful details.
“Argentina is an incredibly passionate country where food culture combining South American and European influences and in which beef is not only honoured but celebrated. This honouring for such a high-quality product and the celebration of it within a comforting environment is what my El Gaucho restaurants is about.
When asked about his staff and their training, Mr Himi said: ‘Employees should never be seen as a group, but with the understanding of the individual – individuals with different ambitions, backgrounds, educational levels. Running an operation with such a high number of employees is never easy, but with patience and most important, with guidance, training becomes part of our daily business.
“As for our customers, I am very glad to see on a daily base the versatility of my guests in Vietnam and Thailand. Backpackers, families, business men, authorities, newlyweds, celebrities, regulars and tourists, locals and foreigners from all over the world in any age between 25 and 70. And this is exactly what I want an establishment that has its doors wide open for anybody who wants simply wants to enjoy a lovely dinner.
Despite the name, Mr Himi revealed that the chain purchases its meat from America and Australia because this is where the best available meat products are sourced. “We buy meat from selected farms in Victoria, New South Wales and individual farmers and ranchers in the United States. Most important for us is to ensure a consistent quality experience.”
Mr Himi said he doesn’t follow any life motto or philosophy. His plans are to continue to develop his restaurant chain with particular focus on Vietnam and Thailand and the optional development within new countries. “This year we are opening a new location on the coast of Vietnam, in Da Nang, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City. An additional location in Koh Samui will open later this year and we are always having an additional location in Bangkok in mind.
“Southeast Asia is a very interesting and also exciting part of this world. I have lived and made business in many developing countries throughout my life and have learned to not only enjoy it, but to face challenges with thoughtfulness and patience. Developing countries, emerging markets, means to never stand still, but to be very patience at the same time.”
El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse restaurants