How We’re Reinventing & Expanding Right Now by Yong Zhao

Episode #73

While attending Yale University, Yong Zhao noticed that traditional Chinese restaurants were declining, but demand for authentic Chinese cooking was rising.  He quickly started working on a fast casual dining chain that could provide a balanced experience for Asian and non-Asian alike, but in a design that could scale-up. 

 Shortly after, Junzi Kitchen was born.  Already recognized as one of the best fast casual dining experience around, Yong is now set on reinventing the Chinese takeout experience, and in the process immediately addressing today’s need while also giving an exit strategy to restaurant owners that don’t have many succession options.

We cover many topics, but some favorites are around how thanks to his strong international connections he was able to begin planning for the lockdown well before that was even thought of as a reality in America.  He also shares the success how they’ve enhanced the customer experience through a highly interactive cooking show on Instagram that pairs chefs and home cooks together.  They’ve also created a “Share a Meal” program that allows patrons to purchase meals for first responders at a reduced rate.

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“So the key for scale is your design for first the market needs to have a scale, so it’s different than you open up one interesting restaurant in a local neighborhood people love it but it’s hard to scale because you don’t have a chef, and with the food, you don’t have the same clientele across the nation.”

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