Food Reviews by World Liberty TV Food Review Team
While the first P.F. Chang’s opened in 1993, our story began in the early 1960s when our co-founder, Philip Chiang, stepped in to help run the family restaurant.
He later channeled his budding culinary talents into creating modern adaptations of his family’s traditional Chinese dishes, opening his own restaurant, Mandarette.
He never set out to build a global brand, but then he met the man who would become the P.F. in our name: Paul Fleming.
Paul, a successful restaurateur and a regular guest at Mandarette, was so impressed with the simple, purposeful recipes being served up that he wanted to share them with the masses. With a handshake, P.F. Chang’s was born.
P.F. Chang’s is the first internationally recognized multi-unit Asian culinary brand to honor and celebrate wok cooking as the center of the guest experience.
With roots in Chinese cuisine, today’s menu spans across all of Asia, honoring cultures and recipes from Japan, Korea, Thailand, and beyond. Each menu item offers a unique exploration of flavor, whether it’s a handcrafted cocktail, wok-fired lunch bowl, or celebratory multi-course dinner.
Worldwide, P.F. Chang’s has more than 300 restaurants in 20+ countries and U.S. airports, including a growing number of convenient P.F. Chang’s to Go locations offering takeout and delivery.
Early in 1996, the company was incorporated as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., which acquired the four units making up the chain. Fleming found the man to head the new executive team, Richard L. Federico, who, in a partnership arrangement with Fleming, took on the presidency of P.F. Chang’s.
He joined the company after leaving his posts as president of Brinker International’s Macaroni Grill 65-unit chain and president of BI’s Italian concepts. Like Fleming, he came to the Chinese restaurant market with no experience in oriental foods.
In fact, unlike Fleming, he had never really acquired a taste for it. He did bring managerial experience, however. He was a cofounder of the Grady’s Goodtimes concept, which originated in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was bought by Brinker International in 1988.
Joining Federico in major executive positions were Bert Vivian, who served as CFO, and Greg Carey, who took on the job of COO. Vivian, who signed on in April of 1996, also came to the company from Brinker International, where he had been vice-president of investor relations. Carey joined Federico and Vivian two years later, in 1998, coming over from his post as COO at Rainforest Café.
With venture capital provided by out-of-state backers, the company began accelerating its growth near the end of 1996, when it opened restaurants in Las Vegas, Houston, and Denver. The managers were testing new markets, moving into new locales after careful demographic analyses of their prospective customer pools. They wanted to avoid the fate of the China Coast, a chain of Darden Restaurants which tried to expand too rapidly and failed. In fact, P.F. Chang’s had some early growth pains, logging a net loss of $1.7 million in 1997 with revenues of $39.8 million. In part to pay down its $11.6 million debt to $2.6 million and finance the chain’s growth, the company decided to go public.
The company made its IPO in December of 1998. By that time, its fiscal picture had improved; its revenue of $32.9 million for the first six months of fiscal 1998 was almost double its sales of the same period in the previous year. Moreover, to the surprise of many analysts, the company’s stock fared extremely well. It grossed $49.8 million for the company when it almost immediately climbed from $12 to $18.50 per share, producing an unexpected windfall encouraging further expansion.
Of course, the chain had already been growing. It had begun a major eastward expansion in 1997, with openings in New Orleans; Dade County, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; and McLean, Virginia. It had also opened its second Arizona restaurant in Tempe.
By the summer of 1998, when it announced plans to make its IPO later in the year, it had grown to 15 units. In that year, P.F. Chang’s also emerged from the red, though barely. Its sales surged to $78.0 million, up from $39.8 million in 1997, but its debt obligations held its net profit down around $100,000.
The 1998 stock windfall allowed the company to begin accelerating its growth as well as pay down its debt. Plans called for adding an additional 21 new restaurants by the close of 1999, bringing its total to 36 units, and an additional 15 openings in 2000. They also called for new, untapped market incursions, in, for example, large metropolitan areas like New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Atlanta.
The company stayed on target for the most part. Although in 1999 it actually put just 13 new units into operation, by July of 2000 it was running 39 restaurants, with a geographical spread over 30 states, and was still planning to reach a goal of 54 units by the end of the first quarter in 2001. All added restaurants, as in the past, would be company owned.
With system wide sales of $153 million in 1999, or an average unit sale of $5.15 million, prospects for realizing company goals for 2000 looked good. One problem did loom on the horizon, at least for the company’s very successful restaurant in Santa Monica, California, where a public ordinance setting a minimum hourly wage of $10.69 was about to go into effect. Such an ordinance would force the restaurant to double the pay of some its staff, which would either cut deeply into its profits or, alternatively, force it to raise its prices or downsize its staff.
“Living wage” ordinances, already in place in some 41 U.S. cities, were likely to spread, hitting the restaurant industry hard since it has a history of running on low wages. If P.F. Chang’s China Bistro were to up its prices to counteract increased labor costs, it would certainly erode its “oriental-food-for-the-masses” customer base to which founder Fleming hoped to make his appeal.
Perhaps addressing that problem had something to do with the company’s decision to develop a new concept–a casual, quick-service variation on its base restaurant, known as Pei Wei’s Asian Diner, the first of which was scheduled for opening in late 2000, at Chandler, in the company’s home state, Arizona.
At a start-up cost of about $500,000, Pei Wei’s would involve a much smaller investment than its China Bistro counterpart. Although it would include sit-down service, it would also appeal to take-out customers. Most importantly, its menu, though featuring some of the same dishes as its bigger brother, would scale down both their prices and their portions.
The Union Square P.F.CHANG’s was opened a little over a year ago, we actually were at the opening night of the Union Square P.F.CHANG’s.
World Liberty TV, Food and Wine team headed by Dr Abbey, Liliana and Al the Eater were in attendance, to do reviews on food, desserts and drinks.
First of all, I want to thank Giuseppe Silvestrini, senior Manager, who welcomed our team, wonderful host, great personality, who greeted us very warmly and directed us to our special table for us to start our reviews. Alice Raymundo, Senior Sous Chef, worked over 5 years at different locations at P.F.CHANG’s was the one who prepared many mouthwatering dishes for us to try and review, lastly want to thank Darren who was our waiter, who was on top of things from the word go, bringing food, serving drinks, bringing our desserts, next time when we attend, we will make a special request and ask for Darren to serve us, since he did such a wonderful job.
The Union Square P.F.CHANG’s , has two floors ,first floor for people sit down and enjoy dinner with a huge bar on the same floor, great art work, with wonderful statues placed throughout the first floor. Second floor is an Party room where you can book for approx., 100 people for dinner, Cocktail, get together, Corporate events, Birthday party or if you have an another event you like to hold their. Mr Silvestrini, said, they will help it to make it a reality, which will not break the bank.
We tried the following Appetizers, that were fresh, tasty and hit the right spot. Asian Caesar salad, Egg Rolls, handmade dumplings, Chang’s Lettuce Wrap (Classic Appetizer) and Kung pao Brussels sprouts. We were almost full on the Appetizers, good generous portions of food given, you can taste the freshness.
For Main Dish we tried the following dishes: Fire braised short ribs, Sesame chicken, Stir-fried eggplant, were reviewed by Al the Eater, who went on to say, the Short Ribs were the best he has tasted, cooked tender, with Rice made with Pineapple, which was the first time he tasted this combination, he loved it so much, he immediately finished the dish. Baby Eggplant was also terrific.
Myself and Liliana tried the following dishes: korean glass noodles, Oolong chilean sea bass, Miso glazed salmon, Both the Salmon and Chilean Sea bass were fresh, tasted great and noodles were excellent.
Next up was a special dessert my favorite part of the evening. The great wall of chocolate cake with a homemade sauce, this is a rich chocolate cake, if you are like me and a Chocolate lover you will love this cake. Banana spring rolls with Ice cream, this was the Dessert of Desserts, for me, fresh Spring Rolls with Banana in them you can taste the freshness of the banana, when you dip it into the ice cream you are in the Heavenly dessert world.
There is a full bar where they will make any drink you like, we all are non-drinkers so we had Mock tails, Tasted wonderful , With Ginger, Lychee, Mango and other non-alcoholic mixes.
Array of Tea served, in a black kettle with small tea cups, you can get 4 small cups of tea from the kettle.
Summary, this a gem of a place to eat, the price is right, food is fresh, wonderful décor inside the restaurant, the staff is nice and goes out of their way to make you comfortable, Senior manager Giuseppe, goes around to each table and asks his customers, everything is ok, not one time but 2 times, I observed that while reviewing.
I look forward to going back for dinner with my friends in Feb 2024, who will be coming out of town.
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