The impact of a Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet will soon become apparent at the on Washington Avenue, where the restaurant is expected to create 150 jobs.
The restaurant, which will serve American and Asian cuisine to as many as 450 customers, is scheduled to open in mid- to late June.
The installation in North Haven of the privately held brand, which has 84 locations nationwide, is the project of PPG Properties, a family-owned development firm in Fairfield that revitalizes vacant commercial spaces.
To bring the 16,000 sq. ft. space to life, PPG Properties, according to Bryan Bowser, president and CEO, is investing close to $2 million. Once the Hibachi restaurant opens, he said, “The whole center will fill up.”
Browser said PPG Properties opened the first Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in Connecticut roughly 1 ½ years ago in Orange. There, the Orange Chamber of Commerce in 2011 heralded PPG Properties as its Business of the Year. The restaurant at the plaza at 79 Washington Avenue will become the company's second Hibachi Grill in the state.
According to Bowser, the company has identified other locations for the brand throughout the Northeast.
“We look at the demographics. We want an open air center where there’s plenty of parking,” Bowser said of how the firm, whose COO is Bowser’s father Frank, chooses locations for this particular brand. He added that access to highways—in this case, the Merritt Parkway and I-91—was also a consideration. Another factor was the level of traffic. “Universal Drive might be too busy,” he said.
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Bowser noted that this site, although built years ago, has never previously had a tenant.
He said that his company is trying to fill other open spots in North Haven along Washington Avenue and that, as he put it, “We have a very good track record.”
For instance, the development company, which also owns shopping centers from Pennsylvania to Vermont, has brought other businesses to Orange. Åmong them, Bowser said, is a Puerto Vallarta Restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine.
In the case of the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, Browser said his firm liked the activity and the growth of the restaurant, which first opened in North Carolina and has spread across the country from the South.
To help keep prices at the Hibachi Grill down, according to Bowser, the brand buys food supplies for its multiple locations. The result in North Haven will be an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch priced at $6.59 and an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner priced at $9.59.
“There’s really no competition for Hibachi,” said Browser. In addition to the brand’s economy of scale, he also pointed to the restaurant’s size.
“It’s huge,” said one area resident who has visited the Hibachi Grill in Orange and has seen the sushi bar in addition to the Asian and American foods, such as a New York strip steak, that a staff member will prepare for a customer on the spot.
Browser advised persons seeking employment at the restaurant to check the company’s Web site ppg-properties.com, where it plans to list openings on Fridays.