Pick Up Stix
Lorne Goldberg had a highly successful record in the finance industry when he started looking into some restaurant brands. Armed with a strong financial know-how and a keen understanding of what it takes to succeed in the restaurant industry, he and his team were able to breathe new life into some underperforming brands, and now Goldberg has a reputation as a top restaurateur.
With a degree from Temple University with a concentration in finance, Goldberg began working in 1992 for Heitman Financial, a multibillion-dollar real estate investment company in Beverly Hills, Calif. In 1995, Goldberg founded West Coast Capital, where he completed more than $400 million in transactions and built the firm to be one of the leading boutique investment banks in Los Angeles, specializing in mergers, acquisitions and equity financings. In 2003, his firm was asked to sell the Mandarin Express restaurant chain, which he subsequently decided to buy in 2004, his entrée into the restaurant industry. Goldberg’s next major moves were to acquire Leeann Chin in 2007 and Pick Up Stix in 2010.
“Pick Up Stix is a leading fast-casual chain of Asian restaurants,” Goldberg says. “It was founded by Charlie Zhang in 1989, and I acquired it on Dec. 20, 2010 from Carlson Restaurants. It has 75 locations in Southern California and one in Las Vegas.”
A Strong Culture
Zhang immigrated from China to the United States in 1982 and believed he could create a restaurant that satisfied the American taste for flavorful Chinese food that was fast and cooked to order in a wok with fresh ingredients. Continuing this tradition, Pick Up Stix today delivers its distinctive flavors by preparing customers’ food in an open-style kitchen, allowing customers to watch their meals being cooked.
Pick Up Stix’s signature entree and most popular dish is the House Special Chicken, which is prepared with white wine, garlic, soy sauce and caramelized chunks of tender chicken. New offerings include the Thai Coconut Curry, Wild Caught Grilled Alaskan Salmon and the Grilled Bourbon Chicken, as well as its three new salads – Honey Ginger, Thai Peanut and Japanese Miso. Additionally, Pick Up Stix’s Asia Fit menu offers items full of flavor that are under 400 calories.
“We are constantly innovating and usually the ones to come out with something before others,” Goldberg says. “We also have a big focus on nutrition, which you can see with our Asia Fit menu. We pride ourselves on our high-quality food and delicious flavors, and we have a big focus on operational excellence. We offer excellent value – guests receive outstanding quality and fine-dining food quality for under $10. Speed of service and guest lifestyle plays into how we are used and valued, because we have significant take-out and catering businesses.”
To maintain the quality and service for which Pick Up Stix is known, its cooks go through an extensive training program, and its front-of-house team is encouraged to communicate with guests and focus on specific service standards. Goldberg explains the company’s quality culture is the result of the team it has in place, as well as the dedication they have to the success of Pick Up Stix.
“We have positive leadership with operational integrity, character and a strong work ethic,” Goldberg says. “We have an entrepreneurial spirit and mentality, and we champion and empower people to work hard while having fun. We have the discipline and structure to educate and train, because we’ve found team members are happier if they perform their jobs well. We maintain honorable practices and high ethical standards, as well as a hospitality-driven mentality of service.”