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November 20, 2010

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Iconic restaurant on the Bund shuts

THE landmark fine dining restaurant Laris on the Bund has closed down, amid claims of a dispute over the running of the restaurant involving its creator David Laris and operator Three On The Bund.

The high profile restaurant has become synonymous with the luxury retail complex, having been a key draw card since Three On The Bund was launched in 2003.

But the center's management decided to shut the swish eatery and its popular Vault Bar on Monday after -negotiations with Laris broke down.

Since launching the restaurant six years ago, Laris has become one of the city's most prolific restaurateurs.

In recent years he has launched several eateries across the city including several "Fat Olive" restaurants and most recently the "Downstairs" bistro at the URBN Hotel in Jing'an District.

Laris told Shanghai Daily that the problems stem from an agreement reached in 2008, which he claims handed responsibility for "supervision, management, quality control and standards and daily operations" to -Three On The Bund, while he provided input on concepts and menus.

"It (the restaurant) just started to go downhill and it snowballed I guess - I offered to take it over myself, but they were unwilling to relinquish control," he said.

The management at Three On The Bund would not respond to written questions from Shanghai Daily, but issued a statement from senior management late yesterday.

"Three On The Bund -regrets the statements made by David Laris in his press release on November 18 2010 and in -subsequent media interviews.

"Some of the statements made are unfounded and misleading. We are seeking legal advice on this matter."

Management at the center would not comment on whether the closure of Laris was an indication that the luxury complex was facing financial difficulties.

But industry insiders have noted that Three On the Bund has been cutting costs recently, with a number of senior staff members who have left not being replaced.

Many large-scale fine dining restaurants have struggled to stay afloat amid a shift towards more casual, less expensive dining options.

Laris, through his David Laris Creates company, has launched a number of cheaper bistro-style concepts.

"I really think 150-seat fine dining restaurants here are a thing of the past and the level of investment required to make that work means a lot of people are not willing to commit to it," he says.

Three On The Bund have yet to decide what they will replace Laris with, but it is understood they will open a new restaurant in the space early next year.


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