via HowardWinnReports

The Grappa’s/Swire saga continues to attract attention online and in newspaper letters columns. Swire as the landlord Pacific Place, of course, has every right not to renew Grappa’s lease in the mall. However, the decision has baffled many of its clientele since it does good business and is a popular concept judging from the outcry that greeted the news of its impending closure. Indeed, it does considerably better than some of the newer f&b outlets introduced to ‘freshen’ up the look and feel of the mall.

Photo: Grappas.

We understand that relations between Swire and El Grande Concepts, the owners of Grappa’s, became somewhat strained in the latter stages of discussions over the restaurant’s future. The Grappa’s team was dismayed at the prospect of not having its lease renewed. This was further exacerbated by the wording of the Swire press release announcing the decision which said that El Grande had been offered another site in the mall.

This is only partly true according to “people familiar with the situation.”  El Grande, we hear, was offered another location in the Pacific Place mall but was told it would have to be another concept i.e. not another Grappa’s. If El Grande had been offered another location in the mall for Grappa’s this would have been accepted. However, it is too late now for that misunderstanding to be rectified since the location in question has been taken up by another f&b outlet.

Pacific Place. Photo: Stand News.

However, following what people say was a rather testy meeting when Swire formally said “No” to El Grande, we understand that discussions between the two parties have continued. Indeed, there are signs that peace may be breaking out between Swire and El Grande. Swire has other property near Three Pacific Place and we hear that the two sides are in discussion over a location for another Grappa’s possibly in the vicinity of Star Street. Trebles all round!

Howard Winn

Howard Winn has been a journalist for more than 25 years working mostly in Asia. He was until recently Lai See columnist for the South China Morning Post, a column that focused on the lighter side of business and more. He was previously Deputy Editor and Business Editor of the Hong Kong Standard. His work has been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. His latest work can be found at