A Brief History of LIDO
Established: in 1987, (SIA LIDO since 1991)
Owner: Gunārs Ķirsons
Number of restaurants and bistros: 9
Number of employees: approximately 1,050
Main market: Riga, the capital city of the Republic of Latvia
Basic economic activity: public catering
Additional economic activities: processing of meat and fish products, tourism and recreation business
LIDO's vision: to develop and improve a special hospitality concept, thus promoting the consolidation of hospitality and tourism as a leading economic sector.
LIDO's mission: LIDO is a private company whose task is to develop hospitality and tourism on the basis of high quality service, a healthy lifestyle and an aesthetic living environment.
LIDO was one of the first private companies established after Latvia declared the renewal of its independence. The LIDO restaurant and bistro network was established twenty years ago and has since become an integral part of the current image of Latvia. Almost every development stage of the LIDO network is related to innovative pioneering worthy of its time and an original attitude towards entrepreneurship and the customer.
The basis of the LIDO catering chain is to create democratic restaurants that offer a versatile menu and a wide selection for every customer, to apply the principle of an open kitchen and food preparation process, as well as LIDO's characteristic interior and furnishings design.
The most vivid moments of LIDO history are inseparably connected to the time of economic changes in the former USSR in the mid 80s, when new possibilities opened up for private entrepreneurship. LIDO was established in 1987 and is still owned by its founder Gunārs Ķirsons. Over one year, the first restaurant bar LIDO was established in Riga city centre, at 53 Lāčplēša Street, and was open for eight years. The restaurant introduced a Bohemian atmosphere to city life and led many to believe that private entrepreneurship was possible in seemingly impossible circumstances.
While the company rapidly developed in 1989, a Wood Processing Workshop was established, in which all the interiors of the future LIDO restaurants and bistros were created, including the pilot project for a restaurant in Germany. Initially, the Wood-Processing Workshop was located at 6 Bieķensalas Street on the territory of the factory Daugava, but it was soon relocated to its present premises at 72e Mūkusalas Street. Six years later, in 1994, the LIDO Metal Working Workshop was established, in which the interior details for LIDO bistros were produced.
In 1991, the LIDO Construction Office was established, which back then started its operations in the premises at 53 Lāčplēša Street. The Construction Office is currently located at 6a Ķengaraga Street, Riga, and conducts planning and design works for LIDO’s network of restaurants and bistros, as well as developing a new tourism and recreation centre concept for the Ķirsona Manor House located in the northern part of Latvia by the shore of Kaķīša Lake.
The second restaurant was created in Old Riga in 1991 – The White LIDO, which was open for five years at 6 Tirgoņu Street. The initial idea was to open an exclusive clothing store, but during the development process it turned into the most prestigious restaurant in Old Riga, with the largest turnover. After a decrease in demand, the restaurant was turned into the pub Beer Garden (Alus sēta) (1996), with a partially open kitchen. It became a popular gathering place for students – the future clients of the company’s restaurant.
In 1992, the First Bistro was created, whose title incorporates the initial aspirations of the company to create a fast food company, in which customers could eat a quick meal while standing and with the use of disposable dishes. Since then, LIDO’s bistro concept has significantly transformed, and the bistro at 54 Ģertrūdes Street has been turned into a characteristic modern LIDO bistro.
In the following year (1993), a second bistro with a beer restaurant was established at 74/76 Dzirnavu Street in which the economic effect of the bistro’s functionality was carefully evaluated and the kitchen concept further developed. For the first time, customers were also offered giros made with a self-made machine, and food was grilled on coals for the first time using charcoal. The opening of this bistro is remembered for the live models posing in the restaurant window, and fireworks and celebrations along the whole of Dzirnavu Street. The stylised environment of that time and the staff uniform concept characteristic of medieval times has now changed in accordance with LIDO’s united visual image. In 1998, the beer restaurant was turned into the bistro Dzirnavas.
In 1994, outside Riga in the student city of Jelgava, a Bistro was opened that operated for ten years until 2004. A pastry shop was opened there later on. The current interior concept characteristic of LIDO was already present in this bistro.
In 1995, the beer pub Staburags was opened at 55 Čaka Street – its basic plan was to create a club for student fraternities, but later on it came to embody the air of an ethnographic museum that depicted the ancient details characteristic of Latvian farmsteads. This is one of the few Riga restaurants in which the evening programme includes dance music.
In 1995, LIDO established the Meat Processing Company and, four years later in 1999, the Fish Processing Shop, which from then on provided all LIDO restaurants and bistros with semi-processed production. Meanwhile in Riga, at 90 Brīvības Street, another bistro concept was implemented, according to which customers were offered quick snacks with a small selection of dishes, including sausages.
A beneficial cooperation was formed with several international cooperation partners while establishing the meat processing company. These partners are reliable business partners still today – for example the spice supplier Schaller from Austria and raw material supplier Kalle Nalo. Optimising meat processing and ensuring quality allowed the supply for bistros and restaurants to be improved. Meanwhile, two delicatessens were opened, in which meat and fish products were sold – sausages and different semi-processed products. This promoted control of the relevant market from the point of standards as well as prices.
Alongside the establishment of a meat processing company in 1997, the bistro Ķēķis was also opened, featuring Latvian cuisine. In 2001, it was rebuilt into a Slavic cuisine bistro and interior bistro – Russian Yard (Krievu sēta). Expanding the menu, LIDO opened a pelmeni (Russian dumplings) production unit, which initially supplied its production to the Russian Yard, but currently supplies retail shops over the entire territory of Latvia.
After reconstruction in 1999, when opening the bistro Vērmanītis at 65 Elizabetes Street, the new LIDO bistro concept was implemented. According to this, the bistro incorporates a restaurant, but a democratic choice of dishes is maintained with different price levels.
In 1999, LIDO invited the residents of Riga and visitors to the city to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the newly opened LIDO Recreation Centre, at 76 Krasta Street. Over the six years of its existence, the LIDO Recreation Centre has become Latvia’s business card and a tourism object of the capital city. In 2003, the LIDO Recreation Centre was expanded with an Amusement Park featuring various types of entertainment for children, thus strengthening its concept as a recreation place for families.
The main building of the LIDO Recreation Centre is one of the largest log buildings in Europe, the construction of which was finished in 1999. The building is constructed from specially selected Latvian fir-trees over 100 years old. The construction works of the building were developed over more than half a year; only then was the building assembled at the construction site. Construction lasted for almost two years and involved 240 firms. The interior of the LIDO Recreation Centre was designed by LIDO Construction artists and designers. The furniture, interior articles and some of the kitchen equipment were made in the LIDO Wood processing and Metalworking shops. 1,000 seats are located within a total area of 2,500 m2 in the three-storey building . Service is provided by 530 employees. The catering complex is located on a territory of almost 5 hectares – a Beer Cellar, Bistro and Express Restaurant, as well as a car park for clients and an Amusement Park.
The Bistro’s customers are offered around 500 different dishes: meat, fish, vegetable and pasta dishes, as well as pizzas and pancakes, fresh juices and organic vegetables. The daily consumption of vegetables is quite impressive – 2.6 tons of potatoes, 400 kg of carrots and 250 kg of onions. In addition to the bistro, the LIDO Pastry Shop offers freshly baked pastries, cakes and LIDO chocolate sweets.
The Express restaurant is located on the top floor of the LIDO Recreation Centre; it offers a wide selection of snacks in a buffet style, as well as table service with menu-selected fish, meat and vegetable main courses. Visitors to the Express Restaurant are provided with a special festive atmosphere.
In the Beer Cellar, clients are invited to taste the national cuisine and to dance. Every Beer Cellar table is painted differently –portraits of widely known persons from Latvia and from other parts of the world are used in the motifs. The Beer Brewery is located in the Beer Cellar, in which four types of unfiltered beer are offered – LIDO Light (4.5 %), LIDO Special (4.6 %), LIDO Mead (4.5 %) and LIDO Festive Beer (5 %). The brewery’s capacity is 900 l of unfiltered beer per day. A full production cycle lasts from 21 to 28 days. Customers can view the beer brewery process, which takes place in devices manufactured by the Austrian company Salm & Co; the beer is delivered to the customers through special pipes (the longest is 92 m) directly from the beer tanks. LIDO beer has been highly ranked several times at Latvian Beer Festivals.
The LIDO Amusement Park was opened in the summer of 2001, when it offered the Car Rental attraction to the youngest LIDO customers. In 2003, the largest artificial ice-skating rink in the Baltic States was opened; in the summer it is turned into roller skating rink. 14 different attractions are available in the Attraction Park: Rodeo, Tower, Sky Dive, Cannon Room, Trampoline, Car Rental, Race Course, Ferrari, Firing-range, Throw and Win, Eurobungee, Children’s Town and the Children’s Driving School. Thematic musical programmes take place on the summer park platform.
Recognising the development potential of Riga International Airport, the company opened the LIDO bistro and restaurant there in 2002. In accordance with the characteristics of LIDO bistros, the company created the opportunity for the customers of the restaurant to indulge in special delicacies. The bar was also for the first time assigned two functions - table service, and also the chance to choose the components of the dishes at preparation stations.
In 2005, the bistro restaurant LIDO Spice was established in the shopping centre Spice, on Lielirbes Street 29, which embodies LIDO's professional experience in public catering – understanding the customers’ wishes to enjoy a wide selection of quality dishes in a pleasant interior. The expected symbioses between a bistro restaurant and a shopping centre has proved itself and the shopping centre Spice has become a significant gathering place for inhabitants of Riga on weekdays and at weekends.
Focusing on the field of tourism, the company LIDO begun to develop the project of Ķirsona Manor House in 2002 in the northern part of Latvia near the shore of Kaķīša or Viešūra Lake. The project initially offered visitors licensed fishing activities during the summer season and skiing during the winter season. The concept of this tourism and active recreation complex is of a hotel with multifunctional entertainment, recreation and spa-type auxiliary structures.
LIDO’s future goal is to strengthen its leading position in providing public catering services in Latvia through applying and perfecting the concept of a democratic restaurant. In the hospitality field, LIDO’s goal is to become an internationally recognised brand and to create a unique and unified concept. In improving hospitality services, LIDO’s goal is to develop tourism based on quality and an ecological perception of life.
1987 – LIDO established
1988-1996 – Restaurant-bar LIDO at 53 Lāčplēša Street, Riga
1989 – Wood-processing Workshop at 72e Mūkusalas Street, Riga
1991-1995 – White LIDO at 6 Tirgoņu Street, Riga
1991 – Construction Office at 6a Ķengaraga Street, Riga
1992 – First Bistro at 54 Ģertrūdes Street, Riga
1993-1998 – Bistro and Beer Pub at 74/76 Dzirnavu Street, Riga
1994-1999 – Bistro Pizzeria at 65 Elizabetes Street, Riga
1994-2004 – Bistro Pizzeria at 17 Lielā Street, Jelgava
1994 – Metal Working Workshop at 72e Mūkusalas Street, Riga
1995-2003 – Bistro at 90 Brīvības Street, Riga
1995-1997 – Bistro at 3 Ķengaraga Street, Riga
1995 – Meat Processing Company at 3 Ķengaraga Street, Riga
1995 – Beer Pub Staburags at 55 Čaka Street, Riga
1996 – Pub Beer Garden (Alus sēta) at 6 Tirgoņu Street, Riga
1997-1999 – Latvian cuisine at Ķēķis, 3 Ķengaraga Street, Riga
1998 – Bistro Dzirnavas at 74/76 Dzirnavu Street, Riga
1999 – Bistro Vērmanītis at 65 Elizabetes Street, Riga
1999 – Fish Processing Unit at 6a Ķengaraga Street, Riga
1999 – LIDO Recreation Centre at 76 Krasta Street, Riga
2001 – Bistro Russian Yard (Krievu sēta) at 3 Ķengaraga Street, Riga
2002 – Restaurant LIDO at Riga International Airport
2002 – LIDO Boat Base at Viešūra/Kaķīša Lake
2002 – LIDO Skiing at Viešūra/Kaķīša Lake
2003 – LIDO Amusement Park at 76 Krasta Street, Riga
2005 – Bistro Restaurant LIDO Spice at 29 Lielirbes Street, Riga
2008 LIDO Design Factory, Priežavotu aleja 54, Bajāri, Salaspils novads,
2009 LIDO Tallinn, Estonia pst. 9, Estonia