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Stir-fry Chains Expanding In the Southeast

The growing sector of fast casual eateries which specializes in make-your-own stir-fry dishes is carving its own niche in the market. Business is budding, and now they are preparing to expand in new markets across the U.S., specifically the Southeast part of America.

Officials of the Chicago-based Flat-Out Crazy Restaurant Group, the company behind Stir Crazy and Flat Top Stir Fry Grill, have decided on the Southeast because these areas are found to be abundant of the type of customers that patronize Midwestern stir-fry concepts.

BD’s Mongolian Grill’s vice president for franchising Tom Ragan said that the chain’s motivation in eyeing the South is more on the subject of demographics rather than geography. The chain believes that the Southeast – Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and South Carolina—is an immense market. They opened a location in Hampton, VA, during the last quarter of 2010 and has since unlocked an interest on the whole Eastern and Southeastern coast.

“The only thing that is decelerating our expansion pace is the funding of our prospective operators,” said Ragan. “But we do get a lot of inquiries, so it’s basically just about letting them know. We plan to launch three locations in the last quarter of the year, and we are finalizing details of opening another nine in 2012 and 2013.”

The Flat Out Crazy Group is on course in opening eight locations this year, including two restaurants in Texas and single ones in Georgia and Alabama. Stir Crazy restaurants are soon to open Texas and Atlanta, while Alabama is getting ready for their very own location of Flat Top Stir Fry Grill.

“I used to run Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and there, I was able to familiarize with the Atlanta market,” said Flat Out Crazy president Greg Carey. “I have always planned to bring in the Asian concept to Atlanta, and a full-service one at that. People in Atlanta enjoy excellent food and they love to dine out. They are known to be fastidious and picky, but if your chefs, in their suave chef uniforms, offer excellent food and service, they’ll welcome that.”

“Our group is confident that we don’t have to worry about regional issues, as we believe that Asian food is a crossover type of cuisine,” he said. “Nor do we worry about competition. There are really enough opportunities for all players. Genghis Grill and BD’s have their own market share and are known to have existed here for a while, but Flat Out Crazy is secure with how we carry out and implement our moves, and our chefs, in their superior chef uniforms, have their own style. We realize that these big guys have areas that they haven’t covered yet, and we take time out to cover those areas, but the very concept (of making-your-own stir fry) itself has its own established market – and that’s very comforting. “

Although the concept is fast-casual, these restaurants are more similar to a traditional full-service dining place. The only fast-casual part of it is when the guests have to stand and go select their own proteins, vegetables, flavor profiles and sauces—but prior to that and after, their entire experience is still full-service.

Genghis Grill currently hold the majority market share in the region, with almost 40 restaurants in Texas, seven locations in Tennessee and three units in Georgia.