Roden Gray: First off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Lindsay: Hong Kong via NYC, originally from Canada. Mother of two. Restaurateur. Entrepreneur. Co-owner and co-founder of Yardbird, RŌNIN, Grocery, and MISSBISH. Classic Libra traits and rooster tendencies.
Roden Gray: Knowing that you guys are from Canada. What made you decide to move overseas, into HK?
Lindsay: The move to HK was due to a job opportunity that my business partner (Matt Abergel) was offered. It was an adjustment at first, but we both fell in love with the city and knew it would be the best location to start our businesses.
Roden Gray: In brief, can you please tell us who or what Yardbird is and what the vision is behind it?
Lindsay: Inspired by the Yakitori-ya restaurants of Japan, Yardbird specializes in dishes of skewered grilled chicken. In addition to Yakitori, Yardbird also features dishes that use fresh, seasonal ingredients as well as a wide variety of sake, shochu, beer, wine, and Japanese Whisky. A family-style neighbourhood establishment focused on producing simple, tasty, and honest food.
Roden Gray: What was the experience prior to this that translated into your vision of opening up an Izakaya in HK?
Lindsay: Matt and I have worked in the Food and Beverage Industry for the majority of our lives. He has worked mostly in the back of house and I’ve worked mostly in the front, but we have both spent a lot of time working with (and enjoying) Japanese food. Our combined experiences in the F&B world made it clear to us that this is our path, our passion, and what we needed to pursue.
Roden Gray: What makes Yardbird a different experience? (For our readers who can’t be there physically and drooling over pictures found on google images.)
Lindsay: Yardbird represents more than just the food and drinks that are served – it’s about the experience, the brand, the Yardbird lifestyle. Izakaya style favorites + cold sake + loud Hip Hop and R&B. It's the combination of these elements that creates a truly unique dining experience for our customers. Roden Gray: We understand that you guys stress on being a community rather than just a restaurant. What is it that makes you guys have such a strong following on social media or features on online magazines such as hypebeast and freshness mag.
Lindsay: The Yardbird team is a family, as opposed to just colleagues, and we work together to demonstrate this camaraderie both inside and outside of the restaurant. I think this is what people, in HK and around that world, have responded to and why our following on social media has grown over the past 3.5 three of business.
Roden Gray: From what we see, it seems like the branding and atmosphere of the restaurant are very well curated. Can you talk a bit about that, in terms of the logo, design of the restaurant, etc.
Lindsay: Creating and developing the Yardbird brand has been very important to us since the beginning and our collaborative projects have come about organically because of this. The people we have worked with, including Evan Hecox, Cody, Stussy, Baxter of California, The Nomad Hotel, etc. maintain the same branding philosophy as we do, with quality and design as the top priorities.
Roden Gray: How did the opportunity of collaborations such as Stussy, Baxter of California, as well as Nomad come across?
Lindsay: Some of the people we have worked with on collaborative projects have been friends of ours for years (before we opened Yardbird). Others (like The Nomad and Baxter of California) are people who we’ve met through the restaurant or through friends of friends that maintain the same philosophy as well do when it comes to branding, quality, design, etc. As Yardbird has always been more about community than an isolated establishment, we have been very fortunate to work with people that inspire us and who are inspired by us as well. Roden Gray: What are the top three choices (food and drinks) to order if someone new were to go in and try out Yardbird.
Lindsay: Chicken oyster yakitori, Whiskey Lemonade, and Chicken Katsu Sandwhich (secret off-menu item)
Roden Gray: Any plans on expansion? Possibility of you guys coming back to your roots in Canada?
Lindsay: Never say never…