Discover more from Fast Casual Nation
Discover Balance Grille's Fresh Approach to Restaurant Operations
Strategies for building a successful franchise brand
Our guest on Fast Casual Nation is Prakash Karamchandani, known as PK. He is a self-proclaimed foodie and technology junkie, as well as the co-founder of Balance Pan-Asian Grille, a nationally acclaimed fast-casual Asian fusion multi-unit concept based in Ohio. Prakash earned a finance degree from the University of Toledo, where he met his future wife Navdeep and business partner HoChan Jang. PK currently oversees development, finance, marketing, and technological innovation for Balance Grille, and has been recognized for his influential role as a disruptor in the fast-casual industry. He has also developed proprietary technologies and an employee-centric operational model that contribute to Balance's industry-leading tenure. Since entering the restaurant industry in 2010, Prakash has become a thought leader in fast casual and restaurant technology, speaking at various industry events and conferences.
Balance Grille, offers a fresh approach to Asian cuisine. What sets them apart in the Asian food category is their diverse menu that eliminates the need for customers to select a specific cuisine type, making it a unique concept in the fragmented Asian fast-casual space. Their goal is to redefine Asian fast-casual by providing fast, fresh, and customizable bowls, tacos, snacks, and bubble teas.
One of the key aspects of Balance Grille's mission is to prioritize customer experience and ensure that everything is fresh. Their menu features unique flavor profiles and food pairings made with farm-fresh ingredients, with a focus on achieving overall balance and wellness, similar to the Asian diet. The menu is clean eating in its purest form, with sauces served on the side to allow customers to customize their meals according to their palate.
In addition to focusing on customer needs, Balance Grille is also committed to sustainability and social responsibility. Their kitchen operations are transparent, with glass-enclosed kitchens that allow customers to see how their food is prepared and what goes into it. They also use sustainable packaging and focus on water conservation and minimal waste in their operations. Balance Grille also emphasizes employee satisfaction, offering well-paying work, well-rounded training, and a peer management system that eliminates the traditional manager hierarchy and allows for horizontal and vertical advancement.
Technology plays a crucial role in the brand's operations, with app-integrated systems for online ordering, training, and performance tracking. This allows for data-driven decisions and transparent reporting for both franchises and employees. As Balance Grille expands into franchising, they have built their system to optimize tech management at the headquarters, enabling operators to focus on what matters most.
“We're always evaluating new technology because it is advancing on its own. But in order to do that, we need to be really disciplined about how we apply technology into the business model. And for us that is segmenting technology into where it is meant to provide a benefit. Whether that be true, it has to be somewhere on the P&L, basically right on the top half of it,” PK said.
Balance Grille values inclusivity and encourages employees to be their authentic selves, embracing diversity in appearances and styles. Their team is passionate about the brand and considers each other family, resulting in an industry-leading tenure of 2.46 years.
With their unique approach to Asian fast-casual, commitment to sustainability, employee-centric policies, and innovative use of technology, Balance Grille aims to take their model across America and continue their success as a leader in the fast-casual restaurant industry.
To learn more about how Balance Grille is growing through Innovation, saying no to the manager model, and changing the outlook on how a restaurant should run check out this episode of Fast Casual Nation. Plus get PK’s top 3 tips for building a successful franchise brand.