In a recent phone interview, Pei Wei chief marketing officer Clay Dover explained the idea behind the new concept and what guests can expect when they visit the new location.
“[The Test Kitchen] gives us an opportunity to put things in front of the guests and customers and let them react and tell us what they think,” Dover says.
The new restaurant features a 46-item menu, with 33 of those items being new or updated. After eating, diners give instant feedback on menu items that may be available six months down the road at Pei Wei restaurants.
“The majority of restaurants have a tasting where a whole bunch of executives sit around a table and say, 'Yes, this is good,' or 'No, this is bad,'" Dover says. "Decisions are made [in] a corporate, sterile environment. What we wanted to do with Pei Wei was to open it up and get guest feedback.”
One of the biggest changes offered at the Test Kitchen is the addition of a flame grill, which Dover says will provide a new cooking method alongside the wok, leading to more grilled proteins and meats. Other Pei Wei locations use the wok exclusively.
According to Dover, consumer feedback so far has been good, especially for some specific items, including pork belly ramen and edamame hummus. Other new menu items introduced at the Test Kitchen include Asian street tacos, peanut satay bowl, pho, kimchi fried rice, several different ramen dishes, and Korean steak. There are also four new salads, as well as a variety of new appetizers, and a supergreen coconut curry chicken — a personal favorite of Dover's.
The new restaurant, which is open now, is located at 20851 North Scottsdale Road in the Grayhawk Plaza. The location is open Sunday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
For more information and to view the full menu, check out the Pei Wei website.