Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Takes Hold in America: Japan-based brand offers great opportunity to diversify portfolio

    Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ is a concept embraced by a variety of consumers and lends itself to the perception of fun, offering variety and a healthier option with grilled meats. Its Hot Asian concept is growing fast and ranks in the Technomic Top 500 chains and in the Top Ten among full-service chains in growth.

    The company has 650 restaurants globally and 35 in North America. Research shows Gyu-Kaku positioned in a niche between quick service-chains and fine dining.

    Gyu-Kaku is also interactive, with customers an integral part of the restaurant experience, and itoffers a variety of menu options. It is also high volume with a simple operation—no executive chef is needed to operate a Gyu-Kaku restaurant. Meats are cut into fine, bite-sized pieces packaged by designated processors and distributed to the restaurants along with Gyu-Kaku special sauces. After customers order, the kitchen crew opens a bag, weighs the appropriate portion for meat, and mixes it with marinade. Customers then grill their Gyu-Kaku dishes right at the table.

    The signature smokeless roaster is the key to the Gyu-Kaku concept. Ventilated barbecue systems, invented in Japan, enabled diners to eat yakiniku, grilled meat, in a smoke-free environment. Gyu-Kaku uses down draft systems where the smoke from the grill is sucked into the underground duct and taken to the roof top, without leaving any smoky smells on the diners’ clothes or hair.

    Also, with this equipment, the excess fats from grilled foods drip into the brazier, allowing users to enjoy healthier cooking. The smokeless roasters enable the restaurant to uphold a modern Japanese upscale environment.

    The Gyu-Kaku concept is hospitality-focused with a thorough training and monitoring system. It also offers region-specific pricing, special promotions, and locally focused marketing. In fact, word-of-mouth has proven to be a very effective method of leading consumers to the restaurant, with about two-thirds of its customers visiting as a result of the positive experience others share. Its mobile app loyalty program and email marketing connects with customers and gains repeat customers, and the majority of consumers visiting Gyu-Kaku are under 35 years old.

    Average unit volume for Gyu-Kaku is $2.3 million, with simple back-of-house operations leading to low labor costs. The company has aggressive growth plans and hopes to expand and triple its size by 2018.

    It offers a great new step for fast food players to enter and diversify their portfolio,” says Aki Yamaguchi, senior vice president at Reins USA Franchise Company, Inc.

    For more information about franchising opportunities with Gyu-Kaku, visit