The 'customer is chef' at Pepper Lunch, a growing fast casual with Japanese roots

CEO Troy Hooper describes how the concept differentiates itself in the Asian space through its authentic menu, service style and design.

Pepper Lunch currently has five restaurants in the U.S., but CEO Troy Hooper is on a mission to accelerate growth into both traditional and nontraditional spaces. The fast casual was founded by a Japanese master chef more than 30 years ago, and now counts hundreds of locations around the world.

Troy Hooper

CEO Troy Hooper

The focus of the menu is a dish called Beef Pepper Rice, a favorite meal in Japan that’s usually served lazy Susan-style in family homes. Pepper Lunch pared down this family-style dish to a personal-sized iron plate that’s uniquely designed so the food can be cooked teppanyaki-style on the plate by each guest. Hooper and his team are working on packaging that will make it possible to replicate the experience for carryout and delivery customers.

Listen as he describes how Pepper Lunch got its name, how the concept differentiates itself in the Asian fast-casual space, why the U.S. menu includes French fries and onion rings served in no other countries, and how this low-labor, low-waste model meets today’s industry challenges.

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