Royal OakSeptember 5, 2012
Mongolian Main Street restaurant celebrates 20 years
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — It’s been 20 years since the first-ever bd’s Mongolian Barbeque opened on Main Street with its brightly colored signage and custom-made stir-fry arrangement.
Although the location moved one block south on Main Street five years ago around when the chain – now 34 locations strong and counting – was in the process of changing its name to bd’s Mongolian Grill, it is still looking for new ways to reach local residents as it celebrates its 20th birthday this September.
“We’re excited about offering the greatest stir fry in the world for 20 years,” said Brad Russell, Mongo’s director of marketing. “We’ve always had the consistency of fun. We’ve always tried to expand our menu. We’re looking at flavor profiles now.
“We had a mathematician come in. You can come to bd’s Mongolian Grill for every meal period for every day for the rest of your life and you could never eat the same meal.”
Most of the restaurants in the franchise will be celebrating with scratch-off prize cards where patrons can win 50 percent off for two people, 10 percent off for four people, a free appetizer, a free entrée or even free food for one year. The other prizes are valid Sept. 10 to Oct. 7.
Other specials include a 20-scoop ice cream sundae in a huge martini glass and a 25-ounce commemorative beer mug, which can be purchased for $7.99, after patrons drink their favorite beverage out of them.
“We’ve always been focused on the community, and if it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be here for 20 years,” said Jeff Medlyn, general manager of the Royal Oak venue.
After a one-year hiatus, bd’s Mongolian Grill was set to return to Arts, Beats & Eats this year. It also regularly participates in charity events such as Art du Jour and Spin Madness, and it hosts guest grillers.
Russell, a Macomb Township resident, said he remembers the original two-story bd’s Mongolian Grill in Royal Oak opening when he was in high school.
“I remember coming here in high school and the line was out the door,” Russell said. “It was such a new concept, such a unique concept that the place was slammed all the time. It definitely has a cult following. Every restaurant has its own different feel. It’s really dictated by its clientele. Every one is different and that’s what I love about it.”
Medlyn has seen his fair share of the different locations, starting as a griller in Sterling Heights 10 years ago before moving up the management ranks through the Royal Oak and Auburn Hills locations. As part of the company’s 20th birthday, he’s hoping to bring back former employees for a fun gathering.
“We’re looking to get some old alumni back,” Medlyn said.
At the same time, the popular restaurant is also looking to add new things by offering $2 kids nights Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and menu items such as the Fried Cookie-O’s, which are four deep-friend Oreo cookies served with ice cream and a hot fudge dipping sauce.
“We really welcome an open forum. Some of our best ideas came from our franchisees,” Russell said, noting the Fried Cookie-O’s were a huge success while they were field tested in Ohio. “It runs the gamut and that’s why it’s had staying power. bd’s Mongolian Grill has evolved quite a bit since it has opened. I think the one constant is it’s been a fun place to go to eat.”
Started by founder Billy Downs, hence the bd’s in the name, the restaurant is hoping to continue its growth and success. It even opened a location in Mongolia in 2005.
“It is because of our undeniably loyal guests that bd’s has experienced such success over the past 20 years,” said Joe Phraner, president and COO, in a release. “Whether a first-time guest or a long-time fan, we’re thanking those who make bd’s Mongolian Grill part of their lives. We are looking forward to creating many more lasting memories with the communities we serve.”
For more information on the restaurant, visit www.gomongo.com.
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