“We’re really moving along,” said Chef Michael Schulson, Chef-Partner of Borgata’s Izakaya, the sexy Japanese pub that has developed a strong and loyal following since it opened in 2008. But, faithful patrons at his Atlantic City establishment very well might have first run into the Chef’s signature stylings a few miles north in the City of Brotherly Love.
Schulson isn’t a new player in the vast and changing Philadelphia culinary scene; his Sampan restaurant is one of the most frequented spots on 13th Street in Center City’s Midtown Village, followed in popularity only by his unique concept Double Knot next door. It’s a coffee and espresso bar by day, and bustling Japanese-inspired eatery at night.
As if that wasn’t enough for the mega-chef, who can regularly be seen on TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off and Style Network’s Pantry Raid, Schulson’s newest concept, Harp and Crown, features a unique American menu and a reservation-only two-lane bowling ally that serves pizza and signature cocktails. And, as the Chef expands his empire, he sees first-hand how his business and fans at Izakaya grow.
“It’s really interesting to see the amount of people that come to Izakaya who follow the growth of our company,” he said. “It’s really busy! The amount of people who feed off of each other is just incredible.”
In short, Schulson sees creating a culinary empire similar to other celebrity chefs around the globe that deliver a consistent customer experience, no matter if they are dining in New York, Philadelphia, or at Borgata.
“Bobby Flay is a total aspiration,” he said. “I want people to think, ‘I know that food and the experience. Let me go there.'”
It’s not a surprise that Philly and food is where it’s at for the down-to-earth Chef, who said that his his favorite thing to do for a loved one is take them on a culinary tour of Philadelphia, including stops at Nick’s Roast Beef, the famed Reading Terminal Market, Chinatown, and Tony Luke’s. No doubt, for many people, they’d also put one (or more) of Schulson’s restaurants on that must-dine list.