A new, quick-service Chinese restaurant called Junzi Kitchen is set to open at 21 Broadway this spring, replacing A-1 Pizza and adding to the growing number of new businesses on Broadway.
The restaurant, which will serve Northeastern Chinese food in a Chipotle-style service line, is a project partnered with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, and will incorporate sustainable food practices into the business.
“We have the opportunity to introduce a very interesting, authentic culture,” said Yong Zhao FES ’15, CEO and co-founder of Junzi Kitchen. “We want to make this food accessible to all people.”
The restaurant will serve wraps, rice bowls and salad bowls with protein and vegetable fillings and a choice of sauce. Zhao said that the menu draws from the Chinese dish chun bing, or spring pancake, which is served at a round table with fresh ingredients and is not typically served at Chinese restaurants in the U.S.
“Orange chicken doesn’t exist in my hometown,” said Zhao, who hails from Northeast China.
This past summer, Junzi Kitchen was one of the 10 projects selected for the Yale Entrepreneurship Institute’s Summer Fellowship program, which provides a $15,000 grant to student startup ventures. Since Zhao and his team developed their project over the summer, they have been running test kitchens around New Haven to develop recipes as well as production and serving methods. The restaurant has run tests at The Grove in New Haven and plans to continue running pop-up locations before its opening, slated for March 2015.
Michael Keefrider, Junzi Kitchen’s director of communications, customer experience and sustainability, said that the seasonal climate in Northeast China is similar to Connecticut’s, so similar vegetables grow well in both places. He said that the restaurant plans to use bok choy, kale, brassica, cabbage, Chinese kale and cauliflower in their dishes.
Keefrider added that the restaurant’s approach to sustainability extends beyond the food itself, and that the business will consider sustainability in its upcoming construction. He also said that Junzi Kitchen will use energy-efficient equipment and will focus on using recycled and compostable materials, as well as managing their own waste.
Wanting Zhang FES ’11, co-founder and operations director of Junzi Kitchen, said that the restaurant aims to meet the needs of students, both by selling food at affordable prices and by staying open late.
“It’s nice having more healthy options that represent different types of foods,” Adelaide Goodyear ’17 said after hearing about the new restaurant.
The restaurant aims to become a part of the Yale and New Haven community, according to Ming Bai, ART ’14, Junzi Kitchen’s lead designer. She said that the store plans to add students’ artwork into the store to “connect with Yale.”
Alex Herkert ’17 said that he thinks the restaurant will offer a “fast, fresh Chinese food option that the campus area lacked.”
“They have a great business plan and have identified an unfilled niche in the fast casual market,” Herkert said. “There are more Chinese restaurants in the U.S. than any other kind, and yet only two Chinese chains in the top 100.”
21 Broadway is one of the few businesses on the strip not owned by University Properties, but by an individual landlord.