The food chain’s first store recently opened in Melbourne Central, closely followed by a second store at QV Square. Another three stores will be opening before the end of 2016 across Melbourne and Sydney.
The concept has taken off in Shanghai, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, where stores are selling up to 20,000 tarts each day.
“It’s a very exciting thing, to introduce Australia to the cheese tart,” said Tatt Ghee Saw, MD, ST Group. “We’re feeling confident that the Australian market will love these too. They’re going to be the next big thing in food.”
The cheese tart uses a traditional recipe from Japan’s dairy heartland, with ST testing Aussie ingredients to replicate the distinct taste.
ST Group has a staff force close to 200 employees and have an annual turnover of around $30m, which is growing at 15 per cent per annum.
Speaking to Inside Retail, Ghee Saw said there are opportunities within the Australian food landscape.
“I think the Aussie food market is a really exciting space to be working in, not only is it exciting to identify the Asian specialities and trends that Australia hasn’t been exposed to yet, but Australia has such a strong influence from the Asian continent, that the public are really open to trying new Asian foods,” he said.
Ghee Saw said Australia has an experimental palette, with people open to trying new dishes, or food stores not seen before.
“We’re very excited about it and there’s been an unprecedented amount of interest, so I would be silly not to say that the Hokkaido style cheese tart is what’s missing from the Aussie food market.”
Ghee Saw said ST has ‘big plans for 2017′ in terms of its Aussie operations, with several projects in the works, though could not comment on the details.
“Since starting up ST Group in 2011, we’ve opened 26 PappaRich, 11 Nene Chicken, and three GongCha stores,” he said.
“And now we’re opening two Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart stores over the next two weeks, and another three before the end of the year – our approach is to keep going and keep expanding, so we will be on the same projected path for 2017 and into the future.”