Our Soju group experienced the most decent dinner in a barbecue restaurant called Gyu Kaku Japanese BBQ. Gyu Kaku means “Horn of the Bull” in Japanese. It belongs to a chain of Japanese yakiniku restaurants, specializing in Japanese- Korean barbecue. Gyu-Kaku eatery is run by the Colowide Group, which is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan. The first restaurant entered yakiniku business in 1996 but officially opened in 1997 after changing to the current name. The first overseas restaurant was launched in US Los Angeles in 2001 and the second was located in Taiwan in 2002. There are nowadays over 700 Gyu- Kaku restaurants worldwide and 600 locations in Japan. it is shown that Gyu-Kaku positioned between quick-service chains and fine dining. It is also carried out with simple operation- no executive chef is needed to operate a Gyu- Kaku restaurant. Nevertheless, each restaurant is different in terms of region and selection availability. For instance, in the United States, outlets especially serve a local source of USDA beef. Gyu- Kaku operated interactively, meaning that customers become an essential part of the restaurant experience and it offers a variety of menu options. Due to the combination of two diverse cuisines (Japanese and Korean), Gyu-Kaku chains also produce and develop its own brand of kimchi, a traditional Korean food, in a Japanese supermarket. Furthermore, Gyu- Kaku business additionally created a line of its own dipping sauces and marinades.
In 2007, Gyu-Kaku chains were proudly awarded the Hot Concept Award, becoming a repetitive foundation in the food industry. Restaurants provide the authentic Japanese grilled barbecue (yakiniku) dining experience where customers cook meats in a flaming charcoal grill and taste Japanese sake, soju, and frosty cold beers. Its Hot Asian concept thrives and ranks in the Technomic Top 500 chains and in the Top 10 among full- service chains. Gyu-Kaku offers a wide range of meats including the bestseller Harami Skirt Steak in Miso Marinade and Certified Angus Kalbi Short Rib in Tare Sweet Soy Marinade. Especially, Gyu- Kaku Angus Beef lasts for 21 days to enhance tenderness and increase a rich flavor. Recently, Gyu- Kaku found out that red meat is beneficial for your health. It is known as the Wagyu beef, which has the lowest level of cholesterol out of almost any type of meat selling in the US. What is more, this beef provides various advantages such as preventing coronary disease, helping weight loss, and providing nutritious sources to the heart. The most interesting part about Gyu- Kaku is that they allow people to enjoy the barbecue at their own tables. Remarkably, with its downdraft system, the smoke is sucked into the bottom of the table and away from guests. This best part called Smokeless Roaster has solved the questionable concern of patrons wanting to get rid of the food smell in their clothes when leaving the eatery. Also, with this equipment, the excess fats from grilled foods drip into the brazier, allowing users to enjoy healthier cooking.
In the past, a successful restaurant would be probably considered in how delicious the foods are because every single eater came to a restaurant only for their tastes and enjoying demands. Nowadays, a restaurant is no longer a place for foods only, but customers choose a restaurant for dine-in because of its attractive decorations and inside atmosphere as well. It is considered that the customer’s satisfaction will decide that they will return or not, DUBE’s study (as cited in Fernando et al, 2019), and they emotionally pleasure if they are interested and satisfied by the place, MEHRABIAN’s study (as cited in Fernando et al 2019).
Gyu-Kaku restaurant is located in Nelson street of downtown Vancouver, this area is considered a great location for food services because there are many other restaurants such as Cactus Club Cafe, Joey restaurant… For advantages, customers will think of the area whenever they initially have demands on foods and beverages. Secondly, a good and convenient address gives Gyu-Kaku restaurant opportunities to visually appear in walkers’ sight while they walk around, this contributes significantly to the advertising aspect of the restaurant without cost. However, this zone also involves many other rivals whose brands are popular and competitive in foods, beverages, and even price range, this disadvantage is a critical point that Gyu-Kaku restaurant should pay attention to because it is necessary to develop strategy’s plans if they would like to survive in the battle.
Gyu-Kaku restaurant chains were initially established in the 1990s. It currently has over 600 restaurants including owners and franchising over eleven nationwide. Gyu-Kaku in Japanese means “Horn of the Bull”, therefore, the picture below Gyu-Kaku’s brand name is about a bull’s head. Following vintage tone style, the restaurant’s main colors are almost black and white on Japanese style blinds, furniture, pictures, photos. Because the restaurant is often crowded, they intentionally place a dozen of chairs for guests to wait until their turn if no seat is available. As Japanese style, all tables and seats in the serving area are made from wooden material with the heating system installed inside-out at the center of the table’s surface which fused with a smoke hooker. In the night-time, the restaurant’s outside decorations are not too attractive because there is only the light panel of “Gyu-Kaku” with a few words “The Japanese style restaurant”.
Slightly smoky air is the first thing that every customer easily feels after coming into the restaurant, but it is not the smell of polluted air, it is the aroma of grilled meats and veggies which could possibly an intentional purpose of the owner. A spacious room with approximately thirty serving tables is always fulfilled by laughs. Furthermore, waiters and waitresses are definitely busy in crowded hours because one of them has to take care of three to four tables at a time including food and beverage delivery whenever getting orders, cleaning table and setting again to be ready for next guests’ arrival. There is a Bar at the corner of the restaurant where cocktails and other Japanese drinks could be served.
The overall food from the Dine Out menu at Gyu Kaku was successful. We attempted to order most of the course menus. The restaurant served a standard course menu which included a starter, grill items set, a vegetable, and a dessert.
Spicy Cabbage Salad
This salad had thin cabbage slices topped with spicy sauce and sliced welsh onions. The cabbage gave off a crunchy sound as we chewed on it. It first looked like an ordinary salad served in many Asian cuisines as a side dish, but we thought it was quite unique because most salads do not give off a spicy aftertaste. The red bits of peppers and green onions that were on the salad were what made the cabbage slices spicy. Therefore, as we could see from the name, the salad was indeed a spicy one but not the kind that could hurt customers who cannot eat spicy foods.
Fried Pork Gyoza Dumplings
These golden brown dumplings tasted like the ones they serve in most Chinese restaurants due to the pork fillings in them. The dumpling skins were very crunchy because they were well fried. Due to the small size, we could enjoy the dumplings without worrying whether or not they were going to make us full even before we get our main meal.
Sweet Potato Fries
These are orange-colored yam fries served with dipping sauce. The fries were quite plain but the dipping sauce was what enriched the flavor. The sauce was what made this rather ordinary appetizer special. The dipping sauce had some spiciness to it so the fries were pleasant to eat. Otherwise, we would have been tired of eating greasy fries.
Half Gyu-Kaku Salad
This salad was a mixture of all sorts of vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and half of a boiled egg, all in one bowl. The ketchup-and-mayonnaise sauce was on top of the salad to give more flavor to it. The variety of vegetables entertained our mouths because we were able to taste everything that was in the bowl.
Momo (Gyu-Kaku Kalbi Short Rib, New York Steak, Chicken Thigh)
We had great expectations for the main meal, the one with the meat. The restaurant had special names for each grill item such as Momo, Mikan, and Nashi. Momo had the Gyu-Kaku’s very own kalbi short rib, the well-known New York steak, and the chicken thigh. Gyu-Kaku kalbi short ribs had sweet soy sauce lightly spread on it so after the meat was grilled, it was juicy and sweet. We could feel the meat melting in our mouths as we chewed on it. The New York steak was served as it was, therefore it tasted like the regular steak people are familiar with. Although the steak was tougher than the ribs, it still had enough juice for us to chew on it no problem. And finally, the chicken thigh had basil smeared all over which we thought was something new. The basil was the ingredient that enhanced the flavor of the chicken after it was grilled.
OTHER MAIN GRILLS
While we were enjoying our main dishes, the eggplant and the zucchini were served. They were both presented in oval-shaped slices and had BBQ sauce spread on the sides. The overall presentation was not fancy because the eggplant and the zucchini were more like side dishes that could accompany the meat. The eggplant and the zucchini slices were placed on the grill. They absorbed the oils and some of the meat juices as well. When they were ready to eat, they were light brown in color. We all preferred the zucchini slices over the eggplant slices because they were crunchier.
Maple Syrup Gyu-Kaku Ice Cream AND Matcha Tiramisu
For the ice-cream, there was nothing particularly special about the ice cream. There were two scoops of vanilla ice cream with maple syrup glazed on the top, and some bean powder sprinkled on the sides of the glass bowl so it looked very messy. They should have cleaned the edges of the bowls to give off a more appealing look. The maple syrup was the component that added extra flavor to the ice cream. If it was not for the maple syrup, we would have just been served a plain ice cream dessert.
A square piece of matcha tiramisu, sprinkled with dark green icing sugar, was served on a black plate. The icing sugar was spread all over the surface of the plate. Same as the ice cream, the overall presentation was not all that amusing. The bitterness of the matcha perfectly suited the creamy tiramisu. As we chewed on the dessert, the soothing scent of matcha collaborated with the mascarpone cheese and the cocoa filled our entire mouths. We thought that the restaurant made a clever decision in having matcha tiramisu on the menu because some customers may have the opinion that tiramisu is a dessert that is too sweet. On the other hand, the matcha tiramisu is a dessert that people of every age can easily enjoy after a decent meal consisting of greasy foods.
Gyu Kaku has been on my favorite restaurant list since we visited last January. It is a franchise Japanese restaurant located on Nelson Street, Vancouver. Also, one more location is located on West Broadway.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Social media becomes an incredible marketing tool when it gets easy to access from the mobile phone or laptop with the internet. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are those marketing examples to level up a restaurant business in the restaurant industry. Access to the Gyu-Kaku website, we can see they use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Yelp as their essential tools to expand more information to the potential customers in Vancouver and the other provinces in Canada. Generally, you can see their pictures, videos about the food and beverage.
Advertising is an important key to keeping your restaurant in the public’s eyes. Gyu-Kaku is advertised by many famous bloggers on Instagram. For example: @heyhangryhippo (11.4k followers), @rainaiscrazy (117k followers) and many foodie bloggers else. Moreover, customers can write hashtags and post pictures on Instagram so that more people can know about this place. Yelp is also a common tool to get customers in the door. Gyu-Kaku appears on the New&Hot restaurant category on Yelp, whenever you find BBQ restaurant, Gyu-Kaku is always on the top with nearly 5 stars from the customer rate. Overall, we can see Gyu-Kaku use a viral word-of-mouth style to develop their restaurant and approach more customers
According to Belle Strategies, she spends her time to develop the strategic marketing of Gyu Kaku and brought the revenue by double week over week in their first month of business. Moreover, Gyu-Kaku is a perfect place for family, friends or any kind of group so that they focus on different kinds of generation from baby boomers to Generation Y, everyone can try BBQ from Gyu-Kaku. Traditionally, customers see much more Korean BBQ cuisine in Vancouver so it would be very necessary to have a Japanese BBQ version in town and Gyu-Kaku did it. With 4P’s of marketing strategies (product, promotion, place and price) Gyu-Kaku has done it successfully.
- Product: different kind of options (pork, chicken, beef, fish, vegetables) in the menu bring for people many choices
- Promotion: Happy Hour menu, Super Happy Hour menu, Late Night Happy Hour menu with big portion and low price for customers
- Place: located at West Broadway and Nelson, two of animated streets
- Price: from low to high, depend on the quality of the meat and group portion
Fernando, J.M.J., Pellegrin, A.A., Renê, O.J., Dittmar, W.A. (2019). Assessment of Customer Satisfaction of a Restaurant in Santa Maria – RS. Brazilian Journal of Management, 12(3), p434-450. Retrieved from: http://doi.org/doi/10.5902/1983465916828
Wikiwand (n.d). Gyu-Kaku. Retrieved from https://www.wikiwand.com
Wikipedia (2020, February 16). Gyu-Kaku. Retrieved from https://en.m.wikipedia.org
Creveling, R. (2019). Belle Strategies: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. Retrieved from: http://bellestrategies.com/portfolio/gyu-kaku/