Pepper Lunch Continues North America Rapid Growth Trajectory with Utah Multi-Unit Development Agreement

Japan’s iconic, DIY teppanyaki tracking to have 100 North America Locations open by 2026

Pepper Lunch Continues North America Rapid Growth Trajectory with Utah Multi-Unit Development AgreementLos Angeles  (RestaurantNews.comPepper Lunch, the Japanese-born experiential fast-casual concept unlike any other, with more than 500 locations in 15 countries, has announced it has signed its fourth significant development agreement for North America since announcing the company’s investment in domestic expansion last year, and less than seven months after it filed its FDD.

Gemba Partners has signed on to develop five units over the next three years in Utah, with the first location planned to open late Q4, 2024.

Gemba Partners is owned and operated by Utah residents Charles and Catherine Johnson. Charles’ career spans multiple start-up restaurants, with 22 years dedicated to operating and growing PF Chang’s from their very first restaurant in various operations roles. Climbing the ladder from an hourly team member to Regional Vice President of Operations, Charles was instrumental in the expansion of the brand, ultimately leading a region of over 60 restaurant locations in the Western United States. His ability to build high performing teams led to additional roles as the Chief Operations Officer in the upscale fast casual segment with Southern California brands Lemonade and Burger Lounge. Charles was responsible for shepherding both brands through rapid growth, people development, instilling operational excellence and financial results.

Catherine’s career journey expands the breadth of the restaurant and hotel industry. An alumnus of the University of California – San Diego, she worked her way through school in the restaurant industry leading to multiple roles in Operations, Finance/Accounting and Learning and Development, opening over 25 new restaurants for the PF Chang’s brand during their rapid expansion.  After moving to Utah in 2007 Catherine was instrumental in the opening of St. Regis – Deer Valley in Park City Utah, operating Jean George Grill and ultimately transitioning into the catering side of the business. This led to her move to the highly coveted role of Director of Catering at The Beverly Hills Hotel where she has been the face of all major multi-million-dollar events for a host of high-profile clients and celebrities, delivering best in class hospitality and results for the hotel.

Pepper Lunch Continues North America Rapid Growth Trajectory with Utah Multi-Unit Development Agreement

Established in 1994, Pepper Lunch is one of Japan’s largest homegrown franchise restaurant brands with over 500 locations in 15 countries. Renowned for quality food served in a unique and innovative way for dining in or delivery, and with guest being able to get in, dine, and be on their way in 20 minutes for under $20, the beloved Japanese-based brand seeks experienced franchise partners to expand its proven business model and cutting-edge customer offerings across the United States.

“After our first visit it was clear this was a truly differentiated dining experience in Fast Casual, that not only produces an experiential DIY element coupled with high-quality ingredients, but it also adds an amazing speed of service,” said Charles. “Catherine and I are more than thrilled to develop Pepper Lunch in the Utah market. Having lived, raised children and opened and operated restaurants and hotels in Utah, the opportunity to bring a truly unique dining experience to a place we love could not be passed up.”

Instead of breaking the bank on expensive yakiniku Japanese BBQ, American diners continue to fall in love with Pepper Lunch’s affordable teppanyaki-style concept that presents the novel menu of sizzling Steaks, Curry Rice, Teriyaki and Pasta based dishes, and don’t forget the signature Pepper Rice on the brand’s patented hot iron plate. At Pepper Lunch, each guest is the MasterChef, where they can ‘Sizzle It Your Way.’

“Pepper Lunch’s service and guest experience are unique and special, and the food is authentic, yet approachable,” said Pepper Lunch CEO, Troy Hooper. “We’re thrilled to continue our domestic franchise expansion by partnering with industry veterans who understand the gameplan which leads to success.”

Pepper Lunch Continues North America Rapid Growth Trajectory with Utah Multi-Unit Development Agreement

About Pepper Lunch

The original Japanese D-I-Y teppan restaurant, Pepper Lunch was founded in 1994 by one of Japan’s most famous chefs and entrepreneurs who wanted to introduce affordable premium steaks with quality ingredients served on a sizzling iron plate. Deliciously irresistible, Pepper Lunch proudly offers quality, tasty and affordable meals sourced from the finest ingredients paired with an unforgettable experience. For more information about Pepper Lunch, please visit

Media Contact:
Joshua Levitt
Media for Pepper Lunch