Causeway Bay’s “Transformers” themed restaurant seeks new tenant due to poor business

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10th July 2024 – (Hong Kong) In May 2022, amidst the global pandemic, a “Transformers” themed restaurant ambitiously planted its roots on Russell Street, a prime location in Causeway Bay. Despite the challenges, “Transformers: The Ark” only opened its doors in April 2023. Recently, the restaurant, facing underperformance issues, is actively seeking someone to take over its lease, with the property now discreetly being reintroduced to the market by the major landlord, Soundwill Holdings Limited, without a disclosed desired rental price.

Located on Russell Street, the approximately 5,200 square foot duplex unit was initially a strategic move to leverage the bustling commercial environment near Times Square shopping mall. The tenant, A La Carte Hong Kong Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the iFREE GROUP specialising in themed dining experiences, partnered with Hasbro to create Hong Kong’s first Transformers-themed restaurant. The establishment, featuring large-scale renovations including a major facade overhaul, now finds itself in a precarious position.

The lease, set to expire in May 2025, was originally secured on a “3+3” year basis—three years firm followed by an optional three years. However, the business scenario has led the owner and tenant to decide against extending the lease post the initial three years. The restaurant, which took a full year to complete its extensive renovations, had misjudged the post-pandemic recovery, leading to lower than expected patronage.

The restaurant’s unique design includes a dining area spread over two floors, centered around a massive model of ‘The Ark’, a spacecraft from the Transformers universe, and features a nearly three-meter-tall moving model of ‘Optimus Prime’. It also houses a memorabilia shop and an exterior giant screen displaying 3D animations, all contributing to a high operational cost.

Originally slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, the delayed launch in April 2023, coupled with a hefty monthly rent of HK$1 million has translated into a rental price of HK$192 per square foot. This is a stark contrast to the peak rental prices of the property, which once soared as high as HK$8.8 million per month in 2015 when it was leased by Burberry.