EMERGING Fund

An Interview with Nick Hogan, the Co-Founder of the Inspired PYRO Restaurant

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Nick Hogan, CEO and co-founder of Flagship Restaurant Group. Their extensive holdings include brands like Blue Sushi Sake Grill, Plank Seafood Provisions, and many more. To say he understands a bit about the restaurant industry would be a phenomenal understatement. 

Here, he introduced their newest concept, PYRO. Let’s explore what goes through the mind of a pro as he sets the Phoenix food scene on fire with yet another unique restaurant.

Marisa: Nick, thanks for taking the time to talk about PYRO, your latest concept, which looks like an incredible restaurant. Can you share a bit about your background and what led you to open PYRO? 

Nick: We opened up PYRO the first week of November last year. I believe this is restaurant number 42 in our portfolio, a portfolio that we’ve been building for about 21 years. So, PYRO resulted from the evolution of business, exploring different concepts, and working with AvroKO, an incredible design team.

It started with the property, which became available about two miles from my house. I’m very familiar with the neighborhood, the trade area in general, the other restaurants, and the customer base. And I realized the site wasn’t right for any of the other concepts in our portfolio. We wanted something that wasn’t directly competitive but complemented the other offerings in the area.

Marisa: And how does PYRO compare to the other concepts in your portfolio?

Nick: Our other concepts run the gamut, from casual to formal. PYRO is at the more formal end of the spectrum compared to our other holdings. In this area of Phoenix, there are a lot of classic American steakhouses. I wanted to appeal to that audience but do something with a Japanese spin on it. We chose Japanese primarily because half of our portfolio is sushi bars that are much more casual and approachable. PYRO is more formal and sophisticated while leaning into the familiarity we have with the Japanese cuisine we all like.

We engaged AvroKO, an award-winning, very creative interior design firm, and our exceptional culinary team, and they went to work creating something new that differentiated us while having a Japanese feel to it. What came about is a mash-up between a more formal Japanese Izakaya and an American Bistro. 

So, in essence, it’s a Japanese-inspired spin on an American Bistro steakhouse. Even the design is a throwback, inspired by Japanese casinos in the mid-1900s. It has a classic and timeless feel that’s elegant and dramatic and offers an elevated dining experience. 

Marisa: Can you share a bit about the live-fire cooking and the spirits you offer?

Nick: Cooking over life fire aligns with the spirit of traditional Japanese Izakaya cooking. We built a custom hearth that’s the heartbeat of the restaurant. This kind of cooking infuses the essence of the wood, giving the food more dimension and enhancing the natural flavor.

The classic cocktail bar carries that forward with an eclectic beverage program that has a variety of specialty cocktails using various Japanese spirits, such as whiskeys and vodkas. One example is the Louis’ Martini with Haku vodka, Oka Japanese Bermutto, pomegranate, pineapple, and yuzu. We also carry a collection of global wines and sakes.

Marisa: I noticed you had a lot of accolades from publications. Forbes’ headlines read, “PYRO has set Phoenix dining scene on fire.” Haute Living said, “Meet PYRO: One of the ‘hottest’ new restaurants to add to your list in 2024.” And Robb Report called it one of the “27 most beautiful new restaurants in America in 2023.” 

What do you think it is about PYRO that draws the media?

Nick: We have a wonderful design and culinary team that is very creative and a cut above. At the end of the day, I think it’s about creating something original and differentiated, so when people come into the space it doesn’t feel like somewhere else they’ve been. Instead, it feels like a first for that kind of experience. 

I think they’ve captured that originality in the design and also on the menu and the service side. It’s hard to create something truly original, so the closer you get to it, the more interesting. I think that’s why more people are paying attention to it.

Marisa: Do you have any plans for other restaurants? 

Nick: We’ve got more restaurants opening up this year. We’re also starting to scout out opportunities to duplicate PYRO in other markets, but we don’t have anything firm at this point. 

A Taste of PYRO

If yellowtail sashimi with orange, serrano, pickled ginger shoots, white shoyu, olive oil, and cilantro sounds good, or perhaps Snake River Farms wagyu, there may be a trip to Phoenix in your future to experience this extraordinary restaurant. 

 

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