“I am very competitive,” says christian rijanto. “I hate losing. there’s no prize for being second.” the handsome, charismatic entrepreneur is a co-founder of Ismaya Group, which made a huge impression on the restaurant and bar scene when it opened Blowfish in 2002. Since then, the company’s other ventures - such as Social House, Kitchenette, pizza e Birra, Sushi Groove, Djakarta Warehouse project and Skye - have mostly enjoyed tremendous success. In 2014 alone, Ismaya opened some 20 new outlets and held 10 big events.
rijanto and his team have branched out into the middle east in recent years, opening four Ismaya projects in Dubai. “Firstly, our goal is to make a difference in our nation, and, secondly, to promote Indonesian brands overseas,” he explains. “When I was growing up, Indonesian brands were seen as inferior. once we had a chance to export our brand overseas, we opened Social House in Dubai mall, the world’s largest mall, which opened in 2008.
“the challenging part is managing our aggressive expansion. We’re always doing a lot of new projects, so we have to manage our resources well. We partnered with Jimmy akili on bobobobo.com, and, in 2015, we’re going to see the opening of two new concepts, the Danish patisserie affaere and an Italian restaurant called GIA.”
rijanto is a huge Star Wars fan. He has a lifesize yoda statue and miniature Stormtrooper figurines in his office. “I feel lucky to be able to do what I love to do and to have the chance to create something good in Jakarta,” he says. “I want Jakartans to be proud of their city. Before, the city wasn’t known for its lifestyle, but a lot of people travel to Indonesia now just to experience Jakarta.”