By Elena Kadvany
UPDATED: Asian Box CEO departs, to open new Palo Alto eateryUploaded: Jan 7, 2019
Frank Klein, co-founder and now former CEO of fast-casual chain Asian Box, is onto a new venture: a chicken restaurant in downtown Palo Alto.
Klein plans to open Roost House at 461 Emerson St., where longtime Chinese restaurant China Delight closed in July.
Klein and partner-chefs Chad Newton and Grace Nguyen started Asian Box at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto in 2011. The Asian fusion chain now runs 10 locations in Northern and Southern California, with franchising opportunities listed on its website.
Mike Speck, the former chief operating officer of fast-casual franchise The Halal Guys, replaced Klein as CEO of Asian Box in August. Klein said he "hired my successor because we needed someone with the experience of taking a brand from 10 to 50 units more aptly than I could.
"I am a concept and marketing and brand and service oriented person, I wanted someone to run the company I founded that had the skills we need now," he wrote in an email.
Klein said he remains on Asian Box's board of directors and is still one of the restaurant's largest shareholders.
Newton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If The Halal Guys' growth is any indication of what's ahead for Asian Box, it could be significant. The Halal Guys started as a street-food cart in New York City and has since franchised, allowing for locations across the country and globe. The website states the company has "over 200 new restaurants in development worldwide."
Klein said that he recently took over and then sold Fast Tony’s Chicken at Town & Country Village, "decided to upscale the brand" and then move it to Emerson Street. (Town & Country declined to state what will replace Fast Tony's but confirmed that it is a restaurant.)
"We are creating a model similar to Asian Box with new investors," Klein wrote in an email.
Klein described Roost House as a "neighborhood chicken restaurant that offers massive amounts of veggie alternatives, some on-trend dietary dishes and amazing beer, wine and ciders."
A menu posted in the restaurant's windows includes chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, a kale salad and potato salad.
The small restaurant will offer fast-casual service during the day and "close to full service" at night (plus delivery and catering).
Klein told Restaurant Hospitality that he plans to work with a freight farming company to grow produce for the restaurant locally in former freight containers. He also said he's creating a program to teach at-risk and underprivileged youth how to operate a freight-produce business.
The restaurant's website indicates there will be more than one Roost House down the line; it states that Palo Alto is just the "first" location.
You can now visit Roost House for a pop-up version of the restaurant available Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until close.. A limited menu will also be available on DoorDash, Klein said.