PEORIA — A new restaurant is to fill the space Flat Top Grill once did at The Shoppes at Grand Prairie.
The new place is a lot like Flat Top Grill. In fact, it's owned by the same group that owns Flat Top Grill.
Genghis Grill is the new-yet-old concept planned for the Northwest Peoria mall, according to Gregg Majewski. He is the new CEO of Mongolian Concepts, a three-pronged stir-fry restaurant operation.
The group oversees Flat Top Grill, Genghis Grill and bd's Mongolian Grill. Primary differences are in what food varieties, sauces and flavor preferences are offered.
Majewski said Genghis Grill is more suited for the Peoria demographic than was Flat Top. It closed for good in June 2020 as restaurants reeled from initial shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was a market we never wanted to leave," Majewski said about Peoria. "(But) Flat Top wasn't the right brand for the market anymore.
"We were doing good with Flat Top before COVID. Looking at the bigger picture, I thought it was not a good idea to reopen a shuttered restaurant, so I made the decision to flip to one of the other brands."
Genghis Grill is more a family-oriented, quick-service restaurant than Flat Top, Majewski said. Genghis Grill offers standard Asian fare, such as fried rice and teriyaki chicken. Some non-Asian foods, including carne asada, also are on the menu.
Flat Top Grill is more gourmet oriented than Genghis Grill, according to Majewski. The Flat Top menu includes coconut curry chicken and citrus shrimp.
The basic concept for both restaurants is similar — diners select raw items buffet-style, place them in a bowl, and a cook prepares them on a circular, Mongolian-style grill. Flat Top also offers chef-prepared menu items.
"Genghis is what most people consider stir-fry to be," Majewski said. "You can eat there two, three, four times a month and not get sick of the food."
Genghis Grill has more than 50 locations in 13 states, but none in Illinois. Majewski hopes the Grand Prairie outlet can open in December, depending on when the necessary equipment becomes available.
"We're excited to be back. We love the market," he said. "I will guarantee you we'll be better operators than we were last time."
Majewski's appointment as Mongolian Concepts CEO was announced last month. He's familiar with Peoria. He resides in the Chicago suburb of Barrington and is a former CEO of the Champaign-based Jimmy John's fast-food sandwich chain.
When contacted Wednesday, Majewski was working the lunchtime grill at a Mongolian Concepts restaurant in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, where the company is based.
"The grill was backed up and I jumped in," he said. "I am more hands-on than most CEOs would be. I love that part of the job. It also allows (employees) to know I'll do anything they do and I wouldn't ask them to do anything I wouldn't do personally."