Yang's Braised Chicken Rice demos how to be a 'one-hit wonder'

| by Cherryh Cansler
Yang's Braised Chicken Rice demos how to be a 'one-hit wonder'

Xiao Lu Yang, founder of Yang's Braised Chicken Rice, tweaks his signature dish — Huang Men braised chicken and rice.

Hitting the 6,000-unit mark is a feat only achieved by a small number of brands, but Xiao Lu Yang, founder of Yang's Braised Chicken Rice, got there within six years. And he did it by serving only one dish — Huang Men braised chicken and rice.

The seasoned restaurateur grew up in the kitchen learning traditional culinary techniques from his grandmother. Over the years, he incorporated and tweaked her recipe for Huang Men braised chicken, adding rice to it, and eventually opened his first restaurant in 2011 in China.

The chef immediately began franchising and set an astonishing pace — averaging about 1,000 per year over the past six years. The Chinese locations sell an average of 400,000 dishes per day per location, but Yang also has a presence in Australia, Japan and Singapore. He is opening his first U.S. unit next month in Tustin, California.

"We are confident that our signature dish is a perfect fit for the American market, and we wanted our first U.S. location to be in a large, diverse market that would connect with our brand and menu," Yang said in an interview with FastCasual.

A one-dish wonder

The secrets to Yang's gangbusters success is his one-dish model and the high quality of its sauce, Yang said.

"Our innovative single-item menu is rooted in tradition, with our braised chicken recipe passed down and perfected over the years," Yang said.

While other concepts often juggle complicated menus and offer a variety of choices, Yang focuses on one dish only. The only other thing on the menu is soft drinks.

"With a single menu item and consistency in ingredients, we were able to quickly scale up operations across China to meet rising demand," he said.

Huang Men Braised Chicken: Is it really that good?

The Huang Men Braised Chicken is a traditional dish in the Shang Dong Province, where Yang grew up. Instead of focusing on inventing something new, he wanted to simply enhance the popular recipe.

"It's also a way to inherit what has been passed down to me from many years ago," Yang said.

That dedication has led to a loyal international fan base that has helped to drive growth, including brand loyalty from families and children who want to create their own moments enjoying a comforting, home-style meal.

"A lot of our franchisees used to be our loyal customers," said Yang, who called the concept a bridge to new graduates, entrepreneurs and retired people who want to operate a business of their own.

"Our franchise fee and start-up costs are relatively low compared to other franchise brands," Yang said. "The concept is easy to understand, and you don't have to be a culinary expert to be able to cook this dish. Since the day we open our franchise wing, Yang's Braised Chicken has helped thousands of people fulfill their dream to own their own business and create job opportunities"

Taking on the U.S.

Although the Tustin location is corporate-owned, Yang has received a lot of interest from qualified franchisees who seek to grow the business throughout California and beyond.

"But our main focus right now is the first U.S. store," Yang said. "We want to make sure that the flavor is right, the service is right, our guests' feedback has been heard and we can perfect this store. We really want to bring this flavor to a lot of people and allow more and more people to taste it."

Topics: Franchising & Growth

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.

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