Ordinarily, this is the type of place I would probably take a pass on, another franchise location among the thousands — yes, thousands — that already litter the Central Florida foodscape. But something about the press release announcing the opening of Teriyaki Madness made me take notice.
The Colorado based franchise is being brought into the area by Brevard Achievement Center, a nonprofit agency with headquarters in Rockledge that offers programs and services to assist people with disabilities. According to the press release, BAC decided that one way it could assist its clients — and generate income, to boot — would be to purchase a fast-casual restaurant franchise. Besides being a revenue source, the business could provide on-the-job training, not to mention employment, for people with disabilities. That’s smart thinking, and that’s the sort of organization that I would like to support.
I’m not sure Teriyaki Madness is the best vehicle for the program.
On the plus side, it’s a straightforward and uncomplicated menu. There are only a handful of appetizers, such as chicken eggroll or potstickers and edamame. The shrimp tempura is probably the most ambitious.
For the entree, the procedure is partial assemblage, though the assembling takes place behind the scenes. First you choose a protein, most of which are variations on chicken; I selected the teriyaki beef. Then you choose a base — white or brown rice, noodles, etc. The entrees are available as a bowl or a plate. If you choose the bowl option, as I did, your side is stir-fried vegetables. If you choose plate you can choose a green salad or macaroni salad or the veggies.
The meat was pretty much what I expected it to be. We’re rarely talking about high-quality cuts when we’re talking fast food and teriyaki. It was well soyed, also not a surprise, and so a bit salty. And the brown rice was nice.
But the stir-fried vegetables consisted mainly of bok choy with some minuscule carrot shavings. As you can see in the photo at top, there was also broccoli. The floret pictured is the only one that was included.
I also found the price-to-portion ratio a bit off. At $8.49 it was overpriced. I’m not suggesting the portion should be increased — there was just enough there to be filling, and a larger serving would be too unwieldy in the plastic serving bowl. But a price adjustment wouldn’t be out of order.
Of course, I’m willing to pay a bit extra for the mission of the project. However, there is nothing at this Teriyaki Madness, first of five that BAC plans to open in the area, that mentions that mission. There are arguments for and against that strategy, I suppose. I also saw no indication that any of the staff members were clients of BAC, fully aware that not all disabilities are visible. I do hope management is sticking with its goal to hire those who could benefit from learning job skills
I did find the staff members that I had contact with and some of the others that I observed while eating in the small dining space to be friendly and sincere in carrying out their duties.
There’s also nothing particularly madness-like about the concept, so don’t expect antics with your teriyaki. We'll put that on the plus side.
Teriyaki Madness is at Colonial Plaza, 2714 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-898-1833.