China’s answer to McDonald’s all-day breakfast is urban food success

When he came back to the United States, Goldberg realized how much missed it. Later, when he took business courses during graduate school at Columbia University, Goldberg created a business plan for a bing business boom.

“Just to learn about discounted cash flow and how to put a business plan together. … It was called Goldberg Chinese Crepes at the time [2001]. I mean, I got an A minus on the report.”

The crepe, which is very common in Shandong, Tianjing, Beijing and Shanghai, is becoming more familiar to trendy eaters at the Urbanspace Vanderbilt upscale food hall near Grand Central Terminal in New York City, where Mr. Bing landed its biggest deal. It’s the first food property developed by Urbanspace, which grew out of Urban Space Management, a U.K. firm that since 1970 has more than 50 projects that revamp derelict city spaces and old properties.

“They loved it, and they said, ‘Can you make one for us tomorrow?’ … I went to Chinatown, bought some ingredients, got a crepe machine, made it for them in their office, and they loved it. … And they offered me a spot,” Goldberg said. “I had seven days to get ready. I had to incorporate a company.”

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In November 2015, Mr. Bing had a tryout at one of the outdoor holiday markets in New York City that Urban Space runs in the winter. Mr. Bing then spent a year doing pop-ups and catering, what Goldberg called a year of building the bing brand. It received a permanent spot in the brick-and-mortar Urbanspace Vanderbilt food hall in January of this year. It is now also expanding into its own small brick-and-mortar location in the Chelsea neighborhood, as well as a food cart in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

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Goldberg said in the restaurant business an owner has to aim for $1 million a year in revenue and 20 percent on the bottom line per unit. Mr. Bing recently received an SBA loan to help fund its expansion.

“We can create a scalable hub-and-spoke model that can be replicated in different cities,” Goldberg said. “Once you achieve a critical mass of locations in a particular city, you can replicate that. … It becomes very small square footage that you need. It’s a relatively small investment. … It’s a cash generator … and it becomes something you can really scale, creates jobs and gives opportunities to other entrepreneurs.”

He said several food-business trends are reflected in the Mr. Bing success story, especially aspects of the fast-casual cuisine boom. People like food that is fresh and made right in front of them. Food halls are becoming more popular because they create a sense of community and elevate the standard mall food-court experience. From an economic perspective, the food hall makes sense for businesses, since it is a common facility.