Thinking Outside the Box
Wok Box is a unique and totally different experience than anything else in the fast-casual segment, providing enthusiastic eaters who have a passion for Asian-inspired meals with a choice of multi-faceted flavours under one roof. They’re not just Chinese, they’re not Japanese, and they’re not Thai. They’re the best of all those countries, and then some.
Wok Box specializes in fresh, wok-cooked Asian cuisine, offering simple but extensive menu options inspired by the flavours of 10 Asian regions, including Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, Korea, China, Japan, India, Cambodia and Vietnam. Wok Box’s main meals consist of innovative fresh stir-fry noodle boxes, rice boxes and curry boxes. Butter Chicken Naan-Wich, Vietnamese Pho and Korean Beef Bulgogi. Noodle and Rice boxes can be customized with beef, chicken, shrimp, vegetables or tofu, eight sauces and 14 toppings.
Also on the menu are small bites like spring rolls, samosas, chicken gyozas (pot stickers), edamame and cheesy kimchi fire balls. Many dishes can be customized vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. This is also healthy fare that has been endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
An Urban Wok Box
The latest iteration of Wok Box has been custom designed to fit the Richmond Row clientele, ranging from neighbourhood residents and office workers to young professionals, families and students. Owner Cathy Docherty specializes in creating memorable restaurant experiences. She works hard to understand her guests, knowing that delivering above and beyond their expectations — down to even the simplest details — is critical to the big picture of being successful in business. This is what Cathy and her staff focus on each and every day.
Cathy recognizes and appreciates the value of a combination of solid hiring practices and extensive staff training. “Nothing is more fulfilling than being part of a team with similar interests, and an organization that values its employees,” says Cathy. She employs a lot of really great people and offers her staff development opportunities and new challenges to achieve personal and career growth. This contributes to a consistently outstanding guest experience.
The wiliness to do the unexpected sets Cathy apart as a business owner. She reached out to Downtown London and other experts once she secured the space at 575 Richmond Street, seeking out resources, insights and advice to help curate a unique downtown experience that reflects the latest research about guest preferences. A year was spent on renovation and refurbishment of the building and the facade, respecting the heritage character of the building as well bringing an urban sensibility to the pedestrian level.
This is the third London location for Wok Box, but the first of this kind. This development was a natural decision for Cathy and Bobby Docherty, who live and work downtown. “There’s a whole community downtown we haven’t had an opportunity to connect with,” says Cathy. “We love walking to Richmond Row restaurants.” Both Dochertys have solid backgrounds in auto retailing but set out to find their own business opportunity. In August 2010, they opened the first Ontario location of Wok Box at the Hyland Centre in the Masonville area. They opened a second location at the Westwood Plaza on Wonderland Road.
The downtown location not only gives the business better proximity for catering office lunches, the Wok Box on Richmond Row is larger than its suburban locations. This is an urban version of Wok Box, with an expanded bar area with funky seating and neon signs in the games zone. There are retro video arcade games, pinball, table-top air hockey and a pool table.
Recognizing that the back of the building needed extra work, Cathy found a creative solution. Well-known and respected graffiti artist Brad Biederman was recruited to paint a lively mural. At night, appropriate lightening draws curious passersby to the location to admire the image. Inside, local graphic designer and artist Alejandro Cardona was brought on board to create interior murals in his unique style.
The entrance to the restaurant features copper-wrapped table tops that extend up the wall for a unique design statement that lets you know that will be a more sophisticated experience than you might expect. The seating is comfortable with several options, including feature seating in a striking green horseshoe-shaped booth. The design palette is a reflection of the fresh light flavours on the menu. The comfortable restaurant is licenced and the menu even offers delightful surprises like prosecco — a reflection of the owner’s preferences and personal touch.
Reflecting today’s trend toward more experiential and casual dining, Cathy’s goal is to bring people into Wok Box and give them a unique and fun experience. Everything at Wok Box revolves around that simple focus. “Our best marketing is giving the guest a great experience so they tell others,” says Cathy. “Success is a reflection of happy and repeat guests in the restaurant.”
Wok Box North London
1737 Richmond Street, 519-667-7779
Wok Box South London
3099 Wonderland Road S., 519-685-9555
Wok Box on Richmond Row
575 Richmond Street, 519-672-3434