Lindsay Jang is well-known around Hong Kong. Her Instagram (@lindsayjang) has more than 60K followers. She has been profiled three times in The New York Times and more times than you can count on your fingers and toes in prestigious Hong Kong publications. She also made the Gen.T list in the Hong Kong Tatler. Why? She is the force of nature behind legendary yakitori restaurant Yardbird, the refined izakaya dining bar Ronin and the trendy lifestyle gastro-brand Sunday Grocery. She’s also the founder of missbish, an online fashion magazine and style guide.
How does she manage four businesses while raising two children? To Sporteluxe Online, Jang explained: “I’m a delegator. I macro-manage. I truly believe in empowering people in their roles and giving guidance along the way. I look at everything from a solution-based standpoint, I don’t waste time complaining or focusing on problems. I am a problem solver.”
Jang’s story begins in Canada, where she grew up living in Edmonton and Calgary. Her experience in the food and beverage industry began by working as a server and bartender in the family restaurant. She learned the ropes in restaurant management, but she did not want to follow in her family’s footsteps. New York City’s bright lights called out to her.
Lindsay Jang wanted to become a star. She spent years attending acting auditions in the big city while serving on the side to pay the bills. As Jang went from job to job, she eventually landed at the famous Japanese restaurant Nobu. Here, she realized the range of possibilities in a hospitality career beyond serving. She was involved in front of house duties with a bird’s-eye view into management of a top tier restaurant and the value of a quality dining experience.
In New York, she reunited with Matt Abergel, who previously worked with her at a skate shop in Calgary. Abergel had also moved to New York, working as a sous chef at Masa, a premier Japanese restaurant. The pair ended up partners in both business and family. After the birth of their first child, they went on a yearlong travel adventure that ended at Hong Kong’s Zuma, with Abergel as executive chef.
Expanding with Yardbird
Two years after arriving in Hong Kong, Jang and Abergel opened the doors to Yardbird. The restaurant became one that top chefs around the world recommend as a must-visit in Hong Kong. On TripAdvisor, the reviews soar for the yakitori menu featuring skewers of juicy flavorful chicken, and yes only chicken – unless there is a special meat on a limited daily menu. Yardbird has a reputation of brilliantly utilizing almost every part of the chicken, such as the thyroid, liver and knee.
In an interview with Sassy Hong Kong, Jang described the creation of the now iconic restaurant and brand. “We have had this business plan for over six years,” she explained. “We have always loved food, especially Japanese food, and the idea of creating a place to host our friends – a place created from the heart. Yardbird was never modeled to be a “cool” place. We just built and executed from our experience and we never let our vision waiver in terms of quality or focus.”
Indeed the creation of not just a restaurant but an entire brand as successful as Yardbird shows the hallmarks of careful planning and an intent vision. Jang and Abergel leveraged their connections in the skating community to put that flare of skate culture into the development of the Yardbird brand. Vans designed unique sneakers for the servers, and Evan Hecox invented the Yardbird logo. This ethos in creating a concept rather than only focusing on cuisine was also part of the success with Yardbird’s stylish sibling, Ronin. Ronin’s sleek décor and modern fine dining experience in a bar setting captured foodie fans, along with its excellent cuisine and the expertise of the always welcoming servers. Plus, like its older sibling, Ronin’s atmosphere does not feel overwhelming.
Lindsay Jang is now applying her experience in crafting these two concepts to debuting a new restaurant in Los Angeles called Yakido, which will have a similar style and menu as Yardbird. The new initiative has been in the works for the last five years and was set to launch in 202. But, then there was the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the silver lining is it takes time to build great things, and we never want to cut corners,” Jang said in Zagat Magazine. “When we do open, it’s going to be exactly what we wanted.”
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