Peter Chen first became a restaurant owner at age 21, back when he was just starting to make connections with chefs across the country.
“He has built an internal network of chefs nationwide,” said Ken Hwang, a Silverdale resident working with Chen to market Fujiyama, which opens Wednesday at 9898 Silver-dale Way in Silverdale.
Chen’s reputation began building in 2002 when he opened Fujiyama, an 11,000 square-foot hibachi restaurant in Cleveland.
It eventually spread westward, and he opened a third location in Olympia in 2006.
His newest addition, the restaurant’s fourth location, will be the first of its type in Kitsap County.
At hibachi restaurants, customers sit in large groups around a hibachi, a traditional Japanese grill situated at the front of the table.
The chefs proceed to griddle their creations in front of the customers, providing the restaurant with an especially social atmosphere.
Despite being an owner for most of his professional career, Chen said he’s happiest when playing the role of chef. He personally trains his chefs, all of whom are required to have at least five years of cooking experience prior to working at Fujiyama.
“I am picky with my food,” he said. “That is why it is always of high quality. I know a lot about different foods.”
However, Chen is at loss for words when describing how he goes about guiding his cooks. “I don’t know why everyone likes working with me,” he joked.
As he looks to employ about 25 people in total, Chen looks at his job as more than just a money-making endeavor.
“I see so many people around here without work and I want to create more job opportunities in the area,” he said.
Chen also owns “Sushi Rocks,” a sushi joint opening a new location in Olympia. He will live in the state’s capital for the time being, though he plans on spending plenty of time in Silverdale as he looks to get Fujiyama off the ground.
Fujiyama’s menu is relatively medium priced, though the restaurant’s dark red walls and elegant atmosphere provides it with the feel of an upscale restaurant.It boasts about 10 tables, each of which seat five to 10 customers around the hibachi, as well as a bar. It also is available for take-out.
“I hope people come from everywhere, from Bainbridge Island, to Port Angeles to Belfair,” he said.