“At JP Kitchen, I’ve always thought it was hard for Billings to adapt to us,” Tang said. “I wanted to make Asian food more authentic and give Billings a taste of what a lot of people might not have had before, but we always kind of hit a certain customer point.”
Closing one restaurant to open another in the midst of the pandemic isn’t easy, especially with the logistical challenges of changing restaurant styles.
At present, the restaurant employs around eight workers, but Tang said he needs around 25-30 workers to keep up with the restaurant’s pace and its fast-paced, relaxed style of operation. But he struggles to find them and not many people apply, so the restaurant operates limited hours Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It was a pretty big change,” Tang said. “I would say I underestimated the magnitude of the change from a full service restaurant and higher ticket prices to lower prices but more volume.”
The closure of JP Kitchen allowed Tang to take a step back and reassess what he wanted to do with the restaurant. Redesigning the space and preparing for the opening required investment and cost more than expected, but it will be a more viable business model in the future, he said.
The menu is simple, with just four chicken sandwiches, tender chicken combos, and desserts. It also offers customers four sides, including fried Brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese, mashed sweet potatoes and coleslaw. The portions are larger than JP Kitchen’s and roughly match the price range, Tang said. The food is prepared by hand before the start of the service but is made to order.