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Sampling everything on the menu was a pivotal moment for Becky and Ryan Richmond, owners of the newly opened Teriyaki Madness at downtown’s NoBay Village.
Last year, the couple decided to open their own restaurant after visiting a franchise show in Tampa.
But before making up their minds, the two made sure to sample the food in an existing location in Cape Coral. To the surprise of the person taking their order, the Richmonds ordered one of everything.
Once the food arrived — everything from Orange Chicken to Crab Rangoon — the couple was sold.
“I enjoyed everything on the menu,” Ryan said. “You know when there’s a lot of restaurants, there’s only one thing you like? Here, there’s everything you like.”
Even in the midst of their July 2 downtown opening, the couple is already scouting locations for two more Teriyaki Madness restaurants. (Stay tuned.) But opening in Lakeland was their priority, mainly because the two live here.
The Richmonds, married 26 years, came to Lakeland when Becky was transferred by a previous employer from Omaha, Neb. Ryan had just retired after 22 years in the Coast Guard.
They appreciate the downtown atmosphere that embraces a neighborly, small-town vibe.
Becky, who is the entrepreneur in the relationship, said, as residents of Lakeland, it was important to the couple to to contribute to Lakeland. “We live here, and we want to be a part of the community and add to it,” she said.
She said she’s pleased with the reception. “We’re very busy,” Becky said, “because the food is so good. They try it once, and it’s amazing, and it keeps them coming.”
Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking style that places a glaze over fish, meat and other foods, Becky explains how it works when you walk in the doors of the restaurant.
In a build-a-bowl concept, first, customers choose a base, which is rice, noodles or vegetables. A protein is next, including salmon, chicken or tofu.
Finally, customers choose all of the vegetables they desire … or don’t.
From the level of spice to the ingredients, the bowls and are 100 percent customizable.
“Downtown does not have fast-casual, Asian options,” said Julie Townsend, executive director at Lakeland Downtown Development Authority. “I think it’s important to have as many cuisine options as possible so we can attract more people.”
As for the success of the restaurant, in the former location of Uncle Nick’s Bagels, Townsend is optimistic, considering the success of neighboring Purple Onion.
“Teriyaki Madness has the power of a franchise behind it, which comes with a consistent menu, set hours of operation, and marketing guidance and help,” she said. “But long term, the food is what will make the difference. If the product is good, people will come.”
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