In December, Steve Zhao broke ground on a 9,000-square-foot strip center at 4300 W. Wabash Ave. E.P. Boutique opened in August as the first tenant in the new center at Wabash and Meadowbrook, and Zhao is now adding his own restaurant to the mix.
Despite the name, Zhao said that Hibachi Madness will be a different concept from his most recent venture, Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet in the Town & Country Shopping Center. Zhao sold that business in 2018.
“This is more of fast-food dining,” said Zhao. “There won’t be a buffet.” Diners will order at a counter and have the option to dine-in or take the food to go. There will also be a drive-thru window to pick up carryout orders, which Zhao said he expects to be a popular option given the pandemic.
The restaurant will feature sushi tacos and sushi burritos, which Zhao said are “popping up everywhere on the west coast and east coast.”
He has already received an occupancy permit and is currently hiring staff. “We’re aiming for the first part of November to be open,” Zhao said.
Zhao also owns Asian Market, an ethnic grocery store on Wabash Ave. On the development side of things, Zhao plans to continue building new shopping centers and he serves as his own general contractor. Zhao has an existing center on North Dirksen Parkway in Springfield anchored by Penn Station East Coast Subs, plus centers in Decatur and Champaign.