Last November, I reported that P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc., the Scottsdale-based company responsible for serving mediocre "Pan-Asian" fare at over 200 P.F. Chang's China Bistro restaurants and over 170 Pei Wei Asian Diner locations, was planning to open a new concept in Phoenix this April.
And Thai my basil, it's actually happened.
Called Pei Wei Asian Market (henceforth to be referred to as P-WAM!), the spin-off will focus on a pared-down menu, limited service, a lower price point, and all items packaged to-go. According to Nation's Restaurant News, Pei Wei hopes its P-WAM! concept will be better able to compete with quicker-service, fast-casual establishments like Chipotle's ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen in Washington, D.C.
Yesterday, the first P-WAM! opened in Phoenix at 742 East Glendale Avenue (7th Street and Glendale Avenue.) Featuring an "assortment of flavorful dishes inspired by our chefs' travels to the bustling markets of Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, China, and Japan," the spin-off's menu includes small plates, salads, Pei Wei Classics, and Asian sandwiches all under seven bucks.
According to Food Product Design, P-WAM!'s interior boasts an interactive menu board (do it yourself), open kitchen (we're watching you), individual seating (loners and freaks go here), free Wi-Fi (yawn), a wall of spices (only a wall?), and a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine (what flavor of Fanta goes best with ethnic sweet potato fries?).
Food Product Design goes on to say that Pei Wei plans to open six P-WAM! locations by the end of 2012 -- two in the Los Angeles area, two in Chicago, one in Washington DC, and one in Princeton, New Jersey.