Genghis Grill is moving away from its Asian-influenced all-customizable menu to offer more curated offerings with more global influences as the chain gears up for expansion.
Among the new chef-developed bowls are the Lonestar, with Cajun sausage, chicken, onions, charred corn, red & green bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, barbecue sauce, and cilantro over white rice; the All-American, which is basically a burger in a bowl, made with ground beef, onions, tomatoes, dill pickle relish, cheddar cheese, potato hash, secret sauce, and a topping of toasted sesame seeds and breadcrumbs; and the When in Rome bowl with chicken, crushed red pepper, spinach, yellow onions, roasted red peppers, and pesto sauce over riced cauliflower.
“It had been all about Asian stir-fry,” said Becca McIntyre, the Irving, Texas-based chain’s vice president of culinary, who developed the menu with chef consultant Robert Kabakoff. “This new menu showcases what you can do with our ingredients.”
The menu was introduced to the chain’s 50 locations on Nov. 17 “to great success,” according to CEO Gregg Majewski.
He said that previous curated bowls amounted to less than 7% of total sales, but the new ones accounted for more than 20% of sales.
“And that was just by rolling it out with no advertising yet behind it,” he said.
He added that the chain’s food cost had dropped by nearly 4.5 percentage points.
Controlling costs was part of the mission behind the revamp, but so was eliminating veto votes from guests who might not feel like eating Asian-influenced food, or who didn’t want the hassle of designing their own meals.
“Our process before, when you had 100 different options, could be tedious to people, [especially] first-time guests,” Majewski said. “This allows them an easy choice.”
McIntyre added that the curated bowls also meant guests were going to get something that actually tasted good.
“If you're not experienced at bowl building, it can be a lot of fun, but if you're not sure how to combine all the different ingredients, it can be a daunting task,” she said.
Of course guests can still create their own bowls from scratch, but Majewski said the growing number of guests who are ordering takeout or delivery can’t customize them the way a dine-in customer can.
“Everybody puts a different amount of X or Y in,” he said, which you can’t do with as much precision when ordering digitally. The curated bowls “allowed us to really go all in on the online ordering experience and the carryout and to-go segments.”
The new menu also expands on Genghis Grill’s fried rice options. The 24-year-old chain’s Supreme Fried Rice, with chicken, shrimp, and steak, has been a top seller. Now it's joined by a kimchi fried rice, a jambalaya, and a Farmhouse fried rice. That last addition has chicken, bacon, and jalapeño peppers tossed in Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning, plus carrots, red bell peppers, yellow and green onions, and barbecue ranch sauce.
The curated bowls start at $9.49, and the fried rice starts at $8.49, but the chain also added a line of $7.99 Value Bowls, all served over steamed white rice with toppings such as chicken, ginger, garlic, and pineapple, or smoked pulled pork with corn, beans, jalapeños, cilantro, and crushed red pepper.
“We wanted a price point that provided people a ton of food and a meal that they can afford in today’s environment,” Majewski said. “By setting up Value Bowls at $7.99, we provide over a pound of food at that price point, and that allows our customers to come in quickly and get in and out for lunch at under $10.”
New appetizers include hummus, a bacon ranch quesadilla, and a teriyaki chicken quesadilla.
The menu revamp comes as the chain, part of Mongolian Concepts, which is also the parent company of BD’s Mongolian Grill and FlatTop Grill, begins expanding for the first time since 2018.
“This year we are proud to announce that we have opened up our first new location [in Peoria, Ill.], and we have 24 new deals signed,” Majewski said.
That includes restaurants slated to open in Columbus, Ohio; Houston; and Jackson, Miss., in the first quarter of 2023.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]