Xi'an Famous Foods

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Xi'an Famous Foods
Private
FounderJason Wang
HeadquartersNew York, New York, United States, USA
Number of locations
12 (2018)
ProductsChinese food from Xi'an
Revenueapprox. $20M (2017)
Websitehttp://www.xianfoods.com/

Xi'an Famous Foods (西安名吃) is a chain of fast casual restaurants based in New York City that serves authentic Western Chinese dishes. Xi’an Famous Foods, a family-run business with no outside investors, is currently located in different areas of New York City and serves the cuisine of Xi'an. Since its founding in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods has gained much popularity. It has been featured in many television shows, such as the Cooking Channel’s Food(ography), Kelly Choi’s Eat Out New York, and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.[1] It has also appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and many more. As of 2016, Xi’an Famous Foods has twelve stores that span Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

History[edit]

Jason Wang serves as the company’s CEO and president. He and his family come from Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China with more than 3100 years of history. Born in Xi’an, Wang reminisces about the food that his grandfather cooked when he was young. Once Wang and his family moved to the U.S., the yearning for home flavors inspired Wang and his father to make dishes with his grandfather’s secret sauce recipes.[2] They felt that there were people like themselves who missed the cuisine of their hometown.

Before Xi’an Famous Foods existed, Jason Wang’s father started a bubble tea shop, which sold food on the side, in Flushing, Queens. Meanwhile, Wang was in college at Washington University in St. Louis, but came home during breaks to help his father in the shop.[3] They soon realized that their food sold better than their bubble tea beverages, so in late 2005, they moved their shop to the basement of Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall and called it Xi’an Famous Foods.[1]

After Wang graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business, he worked in corporate for a short time, but then decided to focus on co-founding his family food business with his father. From that moment, Wang and his father continued expanding their food business to Manhattan and Brooklyn, opening eight more shops.[4] Wang and his father made and sold their homemade Liang Pi Cold-Skin Noodles, Spicy Cumin Lamb Burgers, hand-ripped noodles and other specialties, offering a taste of home to their own ethnic community. “We’re going to keep it pure, because that’s what people are coming to us for,” Wang told the New York Times.[2]

Operations[edit]

Storefront on Saint Marks Place

In late 2005, the original Xi’an Famous Foods opened in the basement of the Golden Mall in Flushing, Queens. In August 2009, two more shops opened, one in Flushing and one on East Broadway, but were both closed due to their limited space and facilities not conducive to the growing operations. In 2010, Xi’an Famous Foods brought their authentic Xi’an cuisine to Manhattan in the East Village on St. Marks Place. Following its success, another shop opened in Chinatown ten months later. The company continued to expand rapidly. By end of 2016, Xi'an Famous Foods has opened six more shops in Manhattan, one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and a sister restaurant called Biang! in the East Village. Xi’an Famous Foods plans on expanding its food empire along the east coast within the next five years[5] with the purchase of their newest 20,000 sqft building to be developed into the newest central kitchen. Xi'an Famous Foods corporate office was established in Manhattan near the Empire State building and is in place to support the operations of the restaurants and its expansion.

Cultural influence[edit]

Xi’an Famous Foods was the first shop to bring Xi’an cuisine to the United States.[1] Located in New York City, it caters not only to Chinese people, but also to people of all backgrounds. Jason Wang made it his goal to differentiate his shop from Chinese restaurants, which tend to remain in the niche market of the Chinese community. “[Chinese] people always think Chinatown is the world,” Wang points out. “Everyone is focused on how we compete in Chinatown as a microcosm…with those ‘northerners or southerners,’ not really how we compete in the U.S. with other types of restaurants.”[1]

Not only has Xi’an Famous Foods been praised by the press and television personalities Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, but it has also grasped the attention of its hometown in China.[1] The company became an ambassador of its hometown food, while still retaining the identity of an American-born business. Xi’an Famous Foods has introduced America to the unique cuisine of its hometown: Liangpi “cold skin” noodles, Lamb Pao-Mo soup, and wide hand-ripped “biang biang” noodles. None of these dishes were popular in the U.S. prior to Xi’an Famous Foods’ creation. It has furthermore spawned hype on the term ‘Xi’an’.

Press[edit]

Since Xi’an Famous Foods rapid expansion in New York, the Queens restaurant chain has been picked up by many media outlets. Most recently in January 2016, Xi’an Famous Foods was named the “#2 Chinese Restaurant in the USA” by Time Out [6] and “Breakout Brand of 2016” by Restaurant News.[7] Following that mention, media outlets such as Business Insider and NBC Asian-American have picked up on Xi’an Famous Foods’ story.

Biang![edit]

Biang! was a scion of the well-known Xi'an Famous Foods brand, which is an expanding chain of specialty Chinese restaurants that specialize in authentic Chinese cuisine from the western Chinese city of Xi'an. While Xi'an Famous Foods is great for fast and casual dining, Biang! was situated in a chic venue with full waiter-service. Biang!'s Full Liquor License also gave them the chance to offer a variety of Chinese Baijiu to its customers. In 2012, Biang! first opened its doors in Flushing as a proper, table-service version of their fast casual original.[8] During its operation, Biang! received one star from the Times, and was also included on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list.[9] In December 2015, the original location of Biang! closed its doors and moved to Manhattan’s East Village. Opened in January 2016, the Biang! seats 40 and is serving all its popular skewers and noodle dishes to its customers. With Biang!'s Full Liquor License, it also offered a variety of Chinese Baijiu at the bar. It closed in March 2017.[10]

Lunar New Year Festival[edit]

Lunar New Years Festival (LNYF)] is a concert hosted by Xi’an Famous Foods that not only celebrates both Chinese New Year but also the blending of culture, music, and food that embodies Asian-American culture. The event brings together Asian and Asian American talent to appeal to an extensive fan base while also providing the opportunity to introduce new music to those in attendance.[11] As a major player in the New York City food scene, it was only natural for Xi’an Famous Foods to curate top vendors to provide food and drink during the concert. Besides Xi’an Famous Foods, vendors line up will include NYC Asian food favorites such as Otafuku, Yonekichi, Korilla BBQ, Mokbar, and Nom Wah Tea Parlor.[11] 100% of the proceeds of the festival will be donated to Apex For Youth, a non-profit with a long and successful history of providing opportunities to underserved Asian and immigrant youth from low income families in the NYC area. Through mentorship, tutoring, and a variety of other programs, Apex For Youth made a difference in the lives of 1,300 children in 2015. Taiwanese American Professionals New York, one of the largest non-profits dedicated to building the Asian and Asian American community in the NYC area, is also involved in event planning and advising.[11] On the mission and goals of the festival, Jason Wang, CEO of Xi’an Famous Foods said: “We’re here to create an amazing experience, bridge cultures, and of course, make a difference – you don’t see this quality or variety of talent at other events.”


2015 Lunar New Year Festival[edit]

2015’s Lunar New Year’s Festival took place on February 21, 2015 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Special guests included MC Jin, Wanting Qu, Clara C, Esther & Lara Vernonin and The Shanghai Restoration Project. Food vendors included Xi’an Famous Foods, Pok Pok NY, Otafuku, Yonekichi, Fatty Crab and Nom Wah Tea Parlor.

2016 Lunar New Year Festival[edit]

2016’s Lunar New Year Festival took place on February 20, 2016 at Terminal 5. Special guests included Far East Movement, Kina Grannis, Softlipa and Kimberley Chen. Food vendors included Xi’an Famous Foods, Korilla BBQ, Otafuku, Yonekichi and Mokbar.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Shao, Heng (July 30, 2013). "The Phenomenon Of Xi'an Famous Foods In New York City". Forbes. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Stern, Steven (June 7, 2011). "Based on an Old Family Recipe". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  3. ^ Yablon, Alex (September 29, 2013). "Boom Brands 2013: Xi'an Famous Foods". New York Magazine. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Reddy, Sumathi (December 29, 2010). "Using Its Noodle, Xi'an Expands". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Strehlke, Sade (January 27, 2015). "Anthony Bourdain Boosts Xi'an Famous Foods". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Tobias, Ruth (January 25, 2016). "The 17 best Chinese restaurants in America". Time Out. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Thorn, Bret (February 16, 2016). "Breakout Brands 2016: Xi'an Famous Foods". Restaurant News. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  8. ^ Lynch, Scott (December 22, 2015). "Biang! Brings Delicious Barbecued Chicken Heart Skewers To East Village". Gothamist. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  9. ^ Morabito, Greg (December 1, 2015). "Jason Wang Plans to Move Flushing Noodle Hit Biang! to Former Alder Space". Eater. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  10. ^ Dai, Serena (2017-03-21). "Xi'an Famous Foods Closes Biang After 15 Months". Eater. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  11. ^ a b c Xi'an Famous Foods (January 4, 2016). "Xi'an Famous Foods Announces 2016 Lunar New Year Festival and Concert – Proceeds to Benefit Apex for Youth" (PDF) (Press release). New York, NY. Retrieved 2016-06-10.