After opening three off-premise stores in Chicago this year, the casual-dining chain opens the first of five to-go stores in New York City; the brand is also testing self-delivery in 10 locations.
After opening three P.F. Chang’s To Go stores in Chicago this year, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro is now turning its attention to growing the off-premise format store in new markets including New York.
On Monday, the casual-dining chain opened the first of five to-go stores planned in New York City. The “to-go” stores have smaller footprints designed for off-premise orders, which represent about 25% of sales. The company plans to open 27 by 2021.
The first to-go store opened in Chicago before the pandemic. The company has since opened two more in Chicago. The new Theatre District location is one of four NYC to-go stores planned by the end of the year.
A fifth New York City location will open in early 2021 as the casual-dining chain plans to use these concepts to enter dense markets where real-estate prices are cost-prohibitive for a full-service restaurant.
Damola Adamolekun, left, who started as CEO June 1, said the company plans to open 20 more to-go format stores next year, which is in line with growth plans prior to the pandemic. Other locations are planned for Long Island, Florida, Colorado and Texas.
In a phone interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, the new CEO said the pandemic didn’t accelerate this new format. Instead, it “validated the path we were on,” Adamolekun said.
The New York City store is 1,700 square feet, much smaller than a typical 7,000-square foot full-service restaurant. The menu features about 80% of a bistro menu, but also includes special meals developed for carryout or delivery-centric customers.
Because the footprint is smaller, the to-go restaurants allow P.F. Chang’s to enter dense urban markets that are hard to make money in with a full-service restaurant, Adamolekun said.
“You can reach more people within a delivery radius,” he added.
In addition to opening to-go format stores, the 202-unit chain is testing self-delivery at 10 restaurants across the U.S. Prior to the pandemic, one restaurant was piloting self-delivery.
Adamolekun, who was chief strategy officer before being named CEO this summer, expanded that test to 10 locations over the last few months to see which markets perform the best.
“I view it as a better way to control the data and the experience,” he said.
During the pandemic, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company permanently closed a few restaurants. Most of the chain’s 202 restaurants have now reopened dining rooms at varying seating capacities, depending on the jurisdiction. The company’s workforce is also at 90% of what it was prior to COVID-19, which represents about 15,000 workers.
Adamolekun said the company is not giving up on building full-service bistros which are the “bread and butter” of the chain.
Dine-in sales account for 75% of total sales. The company plans to build five more bistros next year, in addition to the 20 to-go format stores.