Junzi Kitchen serves innovative Northern Chinese cuisine, but its culture reaches far beyond the food. Founded in 2015 by Yale University graduate students who missed the flavors of their hometowns in Northern China, Junzi “uses food as a starting point to bring cultures together,” says Events and Communications Director Reed Immer. Co-founder Yong Zhao sees Junzi as a model for “how a foreign culture can share its true values through a business in modern society.” It’s a “platform for collaborative projects between local chefs, artists, and entrepreneurs,” Reed adds. Connecting with today’s culture is core to Junzi’s business model, and they’ve found the Internet to be an indispensable tool for reaching their audience.
In terms of foot traffic, Reed considers Google Search a basic necessity. Junzi stays on top of their search results with Google Analytics, which helps them optimize both the discoverability and functionality of their website. Google Analytics also reveals how their site is performing as a channel for storytelling. “Understanding how users move from our menu page to our about page, which tells the deeper brand story, helps us understand how visitors get curious about the story behind our food,” Reed explains. As for their block parties, summer cookouts, and other community-wide events, Junzi relies on G Suite tools to keep the planning process running smoothly. “Google Drive is where all of our collaborative work with chefs, artists, and advisors from around the world happens. Google tools allow us to measure and create the things that we want. Without them, this would all be a dream way off in the future,” Reed says.
More Junzi dreams will be realized on the heels of 500 percent annual revenue growth. Junzi Kitchen plans to open two more restaurants in New York City in 2017 and more than double their workforce. As they grow into the new locations, they hope to highlight the “special aspects of each neighborhood, while tying in Junzi’s larger story.” From New Haven to New York, they will continue to be “a platform that features the creative work and ideas of awesome people in the community.”