Glaze Teriyaki Grill, a fast-casual restaurant in New York serving Seattle-style teriyaki, is expanding.
Specializing in grilled meats with a sweet-and-salty sauce, served with rice and salad, the restaurant also offers such side dishes as edamame, cold soba noodles, gyoza dumplings and charred ribs. Its average check is around $10 at lunch and $12 at dinner.
Founder Paul Krug opened the first Glaze restaurant at the end of 2010 in Midtown Manhattan. He opened the second unit in New York’s Union Square neighborhood last month, and he said he’s close to signing his first franchise deal with an operator in San Francisco. Here, he discussed his plans with Nation’s Restaurant News.
Have you always planned to franchise this concept?
I had never set out to franchise this, or do anything really specifically, except get the first one up and running and do the best we could. We’re looking to grow intelligently as the right real estate dictates and as we come across great people. The real estate market is really tight. We fought probably 30 other applicants for this [Union Square] location.
Who are your customers?
We get such a variety of people. In Midtown we’re near a Crunch gym, and so we get a lot of trainers and people coming in for dinner who might wantbreast, no rice, extra salad, sauce on the side. That’s the beauty of [Glaze]: People find what they like and they develop their unique order.
There’s a restaurant down the street from our Midtown store that’s a little bit greasier, and their busiest day is Friday, and ours is Monday.
So that restaurant is more of an indulgent place, and yours is for people trying to eat more healthfully?
We’re not a health food joint, but on a secondary level, we do focus on fresh food. We don’t throw it in your face, but when we get a bigger store I want to have a vegetable fridge showing the rainbow of produce we use: our orange habaneros, our green shishitos, and carrots, ginger and lemons.
Are you working long hours?
Right now our two stores are running really fluidly. I’m not spending a ton of hours in day-to-day kitchen operations, but in terms of expansion and ideation and outside consulting on other projects, I live the creative part of it and I’ve learned a lot on the go.
A sign outside your Union Square restaurant says “walk-ins welcome.” Why?
This space used to be a hair salon, and we decided to keep the sign, because of course walk-ins are welcome. We tried to really work with what was already here.
What is the most popular dish?
Chicken breast. We try to steer people toward the thigh because it’s more flavorful. We actually lowered our chicken thigh price here to encourage people to try it.
The one item we run out of occasionally is salmon. We buy it every day and don’t keep it for the next day, so we try not to over-order it. But believe it or not we’re really consistent in Midtown. You might get a big group order of 35 plates at 11:30 [a. m.] that will throw us off a little bit, but other than that the clients are pretty consistent.
How have your franchising plans changed the way you do business?
Thinking about franchising has had a huge operational impact on us. Our, Dennis Lake, having worked for hotel groups and Planet Hollywood, has set up ordering sheets and inventory controls and all these labor controls. It’s been really nice to get that.
Do you have anything special planned for the fall?
We’ll be able to bring back our ahi tuna teriyaki special, which was a huge hit last year. Dennis has great relationships with the fish guys here. We get the back of the fish that the sushi guys don’t want but that’s excellent for our purposes. We charge around $15 for it and we sell it out every time we offer it, even if we get 15 pieces.
In San Francisco we’ll have greater access to wild tuna, and will be able to offer it more often. We’ll also play around with offering wild salmon.
And we’re going to be adding beer here [at the Union Square restaurant], too — something really fun, maybe a Seattle beer in a keg, for $3. We hope to get that in the fall.