Born in 1988 in Lviv, Ukraine. Studied national economics at St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance. Nodar’s important restaurant projects are Duhless and Meat Coin. He is currently busy with the latter.

My partner Vladimir Ekkel and I started out in the night club business. We met at the Economics Faculty of the Institute of Finance and Economics in St. Petersburg. We’ve been friends since freshman year, and during our sophomore year we began to build our first club, Duhless — and our partnership continues to this day.

We had several successful club projects in St. Petersburg — Duhless, Santa Barbara, Sydney. But at some point, we got tired of night life and decided to try our hand at restaurants. That’s how we came up with an idea to open a Turkish steak house.

I love meat, I love steaks, I always go to steakhouses wherever I travel. For a long time, I only thought of steakhouses as this English tradition. And then this new trend appeared, Turkish steakhouses with theatrical presentation.

Nusret Gökçe was gaining popularity on Instagram. Our close friend had opened a restaurant with a similar concept in Almaty. We first went to him, to take a look. Then he introduced us to Nusret. We flew to Istanbul, to see where it all began, started talking to chefs, trying to reach some agreement.
We didn’t want to create an Oriental restaurant with heavy rugs and hookahs. We wanted to bring in the cuisine but give it a trendier packaging: contemporary design, good wine, a cocktail menu, Russian service that everyone understands. But the first thing to do was to find the chef. Many restaurateurs first decide what kind of interior decoration they’ll have, what the location will be — and only then think about the kitchen. That’s wrong. You must start with the food. We reached an agreement with a couple of chefs in Istanbul and brought them to Russia.

Finding good meat for work was quite an undertaking. It turned out that there was good meat, but nobody was really an expert. We held a meat tasting from major vendors but were left dissatisfied with both the price and quality. We had to find producers, but how?

We began with the markets. Turkish language is very similar to Azeri, so our chef Mehmet went to the markets and spoke to the vendors: what’s the breed, where is it grown, how can we find it? That’s how we found the farms and excellent meat.

First, we opened three projects in St. Petersburg —top grade restaurant Meat Coin at Rubinstein Street, a more affordable restaurant Myasoet (Meat Eater) at Vasilievsky Island, and a burger joint. But after the pandemic, we focused our efforts on the top-grade concept and closed the other establishments: the labor intensity was basically the same, but financial results were different.
Our restaurant in St. Petersburg was working, we were looking at it and seeing how it could be done in a slightly different format — which is what we were able to do in Moscow. We wanted a bigger place, with different interiors, with a panoramic terrace. We started building Meat Coin in Moscow, but COVID struck. Our project stood idle for almost a year in a mall whose construction was frozen. We opened with a delay of 18 months. In the meantime, we continued to develop our idea, and today, we have already opened the third Meat Coin, which is like a country club of sorts at Komarovo (resort area outside of St. Petersburg).

Komarovo is the next level. That’s how we plan for Meat Coin, we want it to grow along with our ideas, to evolve.

In any business that I’ve been involved with, money is not the most important thing. For me, the most important thing is to come up with an idea, to gather the right team, to inspire them with that idea. That’s what I’m about. The idea itself is primary, money is secondary. Any idea can be made profitable, the question is who’s bringing it to life.

Guide restaurants with Nodar Uzarashvili participation