Yossi Eliyahoo is the creator and visionary behind The Entourage Group – the world-renowned hospitality empire that first launched Momo, an Asian-fusion restaurant, bar and lounge concept in Amsterdam back in 2008. It was a move that initiated a revolution in cool, contemporary fine dining experiences across Europe, and in 2017, Eliyahoo introduced another of his Asian kitchen and bar concepts, Izakaya, to Ibiza. The stylish fine dining space immediately established itself as a destination venue on the ground floor of boutique Ibiza hotel Sir Joan, near Ibiza town, and today remains a hotspot for the jetset, glitterati and foodies of the island.
The name Izakaya translates as a sort of Japanese tavern, where after-work drinks and small dishes are shared in an authentic and sociable environment. In Ibiza – and in his other European Izakaya venues – Eliyahoo has elevated this concept to a level of fine dining gastronomy where the original Japanese kitchen and bar philosophy is served up in luxurious and unique surroundings. Sleek, chic and a testament to urban design, the restaurant and bar boasts a stylish interior and an elegant outdoor dining area by the hotel’s beautifully illuminated pool – the ideal place to gather with friends before heading out into the Ibiza night.
“When I originally visited Ibiza it was purely for pleasure,” says Eliyahoo. “I used to visit with my family and friends early in the season. It always felt friendly and a great place for networking, so I began to think this would be a perfect place to ‘put a flag in’ – in a business sense.” For the founder of such a successful hospitality business, with a range of unique concepts in addition to Izakaya within its portfolio, the first challenge was to decide which of his brands would be the right fit for Ibiza. Also, on a seasonal island where a year’s worth of business needs to be achieved in only a six-month period, there are extra challenges to consider. It takes a high level of passion, energy and a real understanding of Ibiza’s unique business landscape to navigate these challenges and this is where Eliyahoo’s business acumen comes to the fore.
“For me, it was about finding the right location first,” he continues. “When we found this position at Sir Joan, I started working on the concept – I wanted something that would bring innovation and to bring something different to the area. What Izakaya offers is perfect for the location and for the summer lifestyle in Ibiza. Guests are likely to be going off to a party or a club later – they don’t feel like eating too much heavy food and feeling like they’re going to pass out later!” With the location secured and the concept in place, next, Eliyahoo embarked on developing the unique look and feel for Izakaya in Ibiza.
“At The Entourage Group, we never copy and paste,” he explains. “We have the DNA of the Izakaya brand, but all of our venues are completely different. I don’t want to walk into a restaurant in Munich, Amsterdam, New York or Milan, to close my eyes and not know where I am. I want a different experience. Why would I want to go to restaurants in different parts of the world if they all feel the same? That’s boring! For Ibiza, we wanted an interpretation of the island; we wanted a feeling of being outside, the greenery, the water, the reflection of light.”
The overall effect has been perfectly executed. In Eliyahoo’s own words, the dining space at Izakaya feels like a luxury yacht, with shiny chrome and marble striking a balance with marina-like tones of aqua and sea green. Outside, tables are arranged around the pool and the ambience is one of a buzzing, friendly cocktail party, where you’ll find international DJs rubbing shoulders with local islanders. “There are many different things to consider here, like logistics and suppliers and also how to build a team for a business that starts in May and ends in October,” says Eliyahoo. “With the Ibiza Izakaya, we do it more for the soul – for the feeling and the love of it. It’s fun – we work very hard, and really long hours, but we look forward to it every year! People stay up later, they eat later, they go out later. In Ibiza we keep the kitchen open later than in any of our other locations.”
Since Izakaya’sIbiza inception, Eliyahoo is enjoying spending more time on the island each year, nurturing his latest outpost. In addition to his businesses, he is also a married father of four, so bringing his family to the island for the main summer months helps him maintain a balance between work and family life. His British born wife is the CEO of The Entourage Group, so their time in Ibiza is a blend of working hard and relaxing with family and friends. “I love the options for my kids in Ibiza,” he says. “There are so many great places with stuff for kids to do while the parents relax. I love Chiringuito Blue in Santa Eulalia, because of course I love the food there, with the wonderful Israeli influence that is from my own background.”
When asked whether he manages to ever completely relax and take advantage of the Ibiza ‘chill-out’ vibe, the man behind Izakaya smiles. “For me, I just lie flat and try to recover! It’s hard work but it’s fun. Friends arrive on the island full of energy and they’re like: ‘What are we doing, where are we going?’ But I love life, I love my work, I love people and I love socialising. But at the end of the summer, I’m like: Phew! I made it!”