Japanese Pubs on the Horizon?
Just read this article from Beverage Trends magazine... apparently the peeps who brought us PF Changs are testing a new restaurant based on Japanese pubs. Mind you, nothing can touch the real thing when it comes to Chinese food.. but as far as American chain restaurants are concerned, I don't think Changs is half bad... plus I kinda like the idea of an American spin on a Japanese pub... especially since the only Japanese we get around here are strictly sushi joints... often questionable... unless one goes all the way to Rangetsu in Orlando....
Anyhoo... here is the article:
Beverage Trends Newsletter
P.F. Chang’s unveils Japanese-pub concept
By Lisa Jennings
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. has opened the test store here of its new concept, Taneko Japanese Tavern, a restaurant-bar patterned after izakayas, the neighborhood pubs of Japan.
The 144-seat potential prototype features an exhibition-style kitchen with a wood-fired oven and charcoal robata grill as the centerpieces. Specialties include wood-roasted yellowfin tuna, wood-roasted oysters and shishito peppers, American kobe beef, and Kurobuta pork chops, as well as traditional noodle, tempura and sashimi dishes. Drinks include Japanese micro-brew and imported beers, as well as sake, wine and cocktails made with shochu, an alcoholic beverage distilled from rice and sometimes characterized as Japanese vodka.
The Arizona Republic, one of the state’s major newspapers, described Taneko as P.F. Chang’s “most ambitious concept.” Management has indicated that the average check per person will be $30. The typical tab at the company’s namesake brand is under $20, and a customer usually spends under $10 at Chang’s fast-casual brand, Pei Wei Asian Diner.
Taneko’s menu was developed by executive chef Tim Coonan with the help of Japanese cookbook author Hiroko Shimbo and chef Hiroji Obayashi, proprietor of Los Angeles’ Hirozen Gourmet Restaurant.
Taneko was the brainchild of P.F. Chang’s veterans Rich Sullivan and Paul Muller, both of whom were involved in the creation of the company’s namesake concept. Mark Evensvold, an operating partner within the P.F. Chang’s system, is the local operating partner for the new venture.
The test comes as The Cheesecake Factory Inc., the Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based casual-dining chain, is readying its own Asian spin-off. The casual-dining powerhouse has released few details about the upstart concept, but executives have indicated that its fare will be more pan-Asian than Chinese.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer restaurant critic Rebekah Denn has cited izakayas, Japan’s version of the gastro-pub, as one of the U.S. restaurant industry’s next big things. She noted that the restaurant-bars are popular in Japan as a place to stop off on the way home from work for a quick meal and a few drinks. Seattle already sports several, she reported in an August article on emerging trends.
P.F. Chang’s has insisted that Taneko is merely a test site, not necessarily the genesis of a new chain. The company has focused with limited success in recent months on reversing same-store sales declines within its P.F. Chang’s and Pei Wei brands. The operator reported a 13.8-percent increase in total corporate revenues, to $231 million, for its third quarter, but said that comparable sales at its namesake chain dipped 0.5 percent from a year earlier despite a 2.5-percent menu price increase. Same-store sales at the company’s Pei Wei Asian Diner chain also fell, down 1.5 percent from the prior year for the quarter ended Oct. 1, despite a 2.7-percent price hike. But Pei Wei’s comps rose 1.2 percent during September, the company indicated.
P.F. Chang’s, based here, operates 142 China Bistros and 97 Pei Wei’s.