Dinner Chat: Meet The Owner of Junzi Kitchen
December 5 @ 6:30 pm
While over 4,500 restaurants in NYC alone have shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Junzi Kitchen, a modern Chinese fast-casual concept with 4 successful restaurants in New York City and New Haven, found refuge in their brand following and ability to innovate in the face of crisis.
Co-founders Yong Zhao and Wanting Zhang launched Junzi Kitchen in 2015 in New Haven, Connecticut, and plan to open as many as 20 locations across NYC. Beyond scaling Junzi, the owners are on a mission to help save mom-and-pop Chinese takeout restaurants, inspired by Yong Zhao’s experience with a landlord in grad school who wanted to retire from his restaurant business but couldn’t find anyone to take it over.
The co-founders recently raised $5M for their venture and plan on buying Chinese takeout businesses in Manhattan, revamping their technology, operations, and design to cater to the modern consumer, thereby creating an “exit strategy” for Chinese immigrant restaurant owners who don’t have a viable plan for retiring due to labor shortages. The Junzi team’s research on the factors driving tens of thousands of Chinese takeout restaurants to close across the country has allowed them to adapt and identify trends and opportunities for improvement for these businesses. With the success of Junzi, it’s clear this team knows what they’re doing.
Junzi’s founding team and Chef Lucas Sin launched initiatives like Share a Meal to donate healthy meals to frontline workers, and the Distance Dining series, a weekly delivery program allowing patrons to participate in a communal culinary experience at home via Instagram Live. The series featured partnerships with fellow chefs and fully-cooked three-course meals. Storytelling, giving, collaboration, and sheer creativity allowed the business to survive one of the most turbulent periods the restaurant industry has ever seen.
Join us for dinner and a Q&A with Junzi’s founding team to learn about how the brand navigated the pandemic, and what they’re working on currently to continue scaling the Junzi brand and vision, and desserts by Banh by Lauren.
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Junzi Kitchen, 2896 Broadway New York, NY 10025
Tickets: Free for members, $20 for non-members