July 5, Staff Report
Out with the old, in with the new.
The New Grand Buffet, the large Chinese restaurant located at 34-45 48th Street, has been taken over by a new owner who wants to modernize the 20-year-old establishment.
Jason Zheng, who has close ties to the restaurant since his parents managed it for years, bought the business recently with big plans in mind. Zheng plans to transform it into a trendier eatery and intends to renovate and possibly expand it.
“The Chinese buffet trend started 20 years ago in New Jersey, and then expanded into Long Island, Queens and elsewhere,” Zheng said. “Now, if you go into any Chinese buffet, the layout and style of each looks almost exactly the same because they were all built with the same design in mind.”
Zheng said he plans to add a sushi bar and hibachi-style open kitchen, among many other changes.
He is in current negotiations with the landlord for the empty lot next door at 34-47 48th St. which was previously occupied by “WeeBeeKids.”
If he successfully secures the location, he plans to expand New Grand Buffet into the 6,000 sq. ft. space, which would double the size of the restaurant to 12,000 sq. ft.
“If we secure the space next door, we plan on being able to install dividing doors between the new and old sections of New Grand Buffet, so we can have private parties without having to close down the whole restaurant,” he said.
Bridal parties, christenings, birthdays, corporate events and more will be possible with the privacy that the separation would provide, he said, as well as modern equipment and amenities he intends to install such as overhead speakers, projectors for meetings and events, and a full liquor bar which the restaurant currently does not feature.
Zheng said he also plans to pay close attention to what his customers are saying about the restaurant.
“I plan to make sweeping new changes right away, starting with getting immediate feedback from our customers through comment cards with every meal, which we are implementing this week,” said Zheng.
The new owner says he plans to make customer satisfaction central to management, and that he will not hold back on any expense in order to meet that demand.
“We want to do everything we can to encourage people to become repeat customers, so we are introducing Loyalty Cards which diners will be able to sign up for in the near future,” Zheng shared.
In order to obtain a Loyalty Card, a restaurant-goer would have to sign up during their visit, at which point they would receive the following benefits:
– 10% off their bill immediately
– 3% off each bill on future visits
– Price freeze on all buffet items and services for 2 months
Zheng says he is including the price freeze as part of the loyalty program because he anticipates that some items will cost more as New Grand Buffet undergoes renovation later in the year.
The New Grand Buffet is not Zheng’s only new venture. He is in the midst of opening a smaller restaurant called BT Kitchen at 31-16 Broadway in Astoria, just steps away from the N/W Broadway train station.
This eatery, he said, will feature a cross between buffet and takeout, where customers get to pick out buffet items and put them in a container. The price is determined by the size of the container.
New Grand Buffet will serve as a central kitchen for BT Kitchen, and Zheng says if that establishment is a success, he will open similar buffet-takeout style restaurants in Long Island City and elsewhere.