For a guy who founded a 200-restaurant chain with $1 billion in revenue a year, Philip Chiang seems pretty relaxed. He’s drinking coffee on the lanai of the P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, the one in the Hokua condominium near Ward, wearing jeans and a purple T-shirt, listening to music on his iPhone.
“I’m mainly a goodwill ambassador for the company now,” he says. “I go into the test kitchen every once in a while, but the R&D staff does most of the heavy lifting.” Chiang spends about a week a month at events like the fifth anniversary of the Hokua P.F. Chang’s. The rest of the time? He paints. “Art is my first love. I’m a bohemian, not a corporate guy at all.”
So how did he create the first chain of Chinese restaurant to reach out across America and, increasingly, the world? He’s got a remarkable back story.