Chen is a member of the founding family--a large clan from south China made up of "cousins, family, friends"--that opened the first Hibachi Grill in Dunn, North Carolina, in 2007. They paired Asian items with American comfort food to create all-you-can-eat buffets serving everything from sushi to mac and cheese.
Tiny and lithe with an elaborately jeweled phone holster and wedding ring, Chen, twenty-six, has spent her adult life traveling around the country opening Hibachi Grills. Her husband, Meng Wang, travels and works with her, and they have a daughter named Hillary: "I named her that because I want her to be president!" Chen says.
At first blush, Hibachi Grill might seem to be going head to head with Ichiban, its neighbor in Glencoe Crossing. Ichiban seems to think so--it has hastily erected some no-nonsense black-and-white posters in its windows advertising 30 percent off. But Chen seems surprised at the comparison, saying her business is "a different type. We have a buffet. Here, we take a look at it right now," she grins, and jumps up to lead a tour.