Hungarian-born Hollywood movie producer Andrew G. Vajna talks to Diplomacy and Trade magazine about his business interests in the Hungarian capital where he was born and the city that he left in 1956 to leave for the United States.
“I believe Budapest needs to catch up with the rest of the world. There is a fine opera here but it is not publicized enough. There are fantastic baths around the city attracting a high number of tourists. I think we need to catch up in terms of shopping and restaurants in order to make it an entertaining place where people come to spend several days.” These words by Hungarian-born Hollywood movie producer Andrew G. Vajna to Diplomacy and Trade magazine shed light on why the world’s 23rd Nobu restaurant was opened in Budapest this October.
“Dining is a pleasure. Fine dining and getting something unique for you money is very important. Nobu tries to use the best possible raw material, provide the best possible service: the best of Japanese cuisine with a very exciting Latin flavor. Nobu’s following consists of those people who appreciate the best,” Vajna points out, recalling the times when – over 20 years ago – he was among those frequenting Nobu Matsuhisa’s first restaurant in Beverly Hills.
As for Budapest is mature enough for such a worldclass establishment, the producer says “let’s say, we’re adventurous. We hope to create a clientele that demands this kind of service and quality. We think there are enough tourists who already would like to have something more unique. These tourists go to Nobu when they go to London or Milan. There is also a Hungarian clientele who travel around the world and visit important restaurants. We hope that we can also attract them.”
Vajna successfully convinced founder Nobu Matsuhisa and his financial backers Robert de Niro and Meir Teper to open a restaurant in Budapest and is now a stakeholder in the venture. It adds to a list of Vajna’s interests in Hungary that are in movie production and distribution, the supply of digital content for video games, fashion and casinos.
“Jack of all trades”
Andrew G. Vajna also produced several movies in Hungary, starting with the film adaptation of the play ‘Out of order’ that turned out to be the most popular Hungarian movie ever. Another production, ‘Freedom’s fury’ recalled the events of 1956 when Vajna immigrated to America. For this reason, “this is very close to my heart, a work of passion for me, trying to give back the feeling of the revolution” he says.
As for his involvement in other areas of business, Vajna gives a simple explanation. “The movie industry is the ‘jack of all trades’. You deal, for instance, with costumes, wardrobe.” That is how he came into close contact with designer Roberto Cavalli and came up with the idea of a Cavalli store in Budapest. “This venture is just another effort to make Budapest a more exciting place for tourists and get locals to know stores that exist all over the world. With other world brands appearing in Budapest, “you will no longer have to go shopping to Paris or Milan.”