What is the most popular menu item at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse?
It depends on the market.
The Huntington Beach, California-based chain has more than 220 locations in 29 states.
“In California, our seared ahi tuna salad and our seafood tacos are incredibly popular,” said Fred Greenleaf, general manager of the location opening Monday, Sept. 4, at 760 Jefferson Road, Henrietta. Whereas, at the BJ’s in Toledo, Ohio, which Greenleaf previously oversaw, customers lean heavily into the ribeye steak and hickory brisket and bacon burger.
BJ’s started in 1978 with one Santa Ana, California, location that focused on deep-dish pizza with a California twist. It still sells those pizzas but within a vast menu that strives to provide food for every taste.
“We have a menu that boasts 100-plus items,” Greenleaf said, “and we don’t cater to a specific style of food. So, if somebody wanted pasta or burgers or steaks, we have a little bit of everything to offer everyone. We have plates as high as a prime rib ($31.85) or as humble as a California chicken club sandwich ($16.25).”
BJ’s also has its own line of craft beers on tap, hence Brewhouse being part of the name.
The beer is made at full-size breweries in several states and only served at BJ’s restaurants. “You can’t get them anywhere else. You can’t go to Wegmans and buy a six pack,” said Greenleaf, who moved here just five weeks ago but sounds like he's already gotten the lay of the land.
The Henrietta restaurant will sell BJ’s beer in growlers to go, too. (The full bar also sells other brands.)
One of the things the chain is best-known for is its signature dessert, the Pizookie.
It’s an oversized oven-baked cookie served warm and topped with ice cream. A number of flavor versions are rotated throughout the year, but the one being offered now is the peanut butter s’mores Pizookie: a crumbly Ghirardelli triple chocolate cookie base topped with peanut butter, toasted marshmallows and vanilla bean ice cream.
Usually $8.45, the price is $5 on Tuesday as a daily special. BJ’s also has daily lunch specials for $12.
The Henrietta BJ’s — which has a modern industrial vibe, a separate bar area and about a dozen flat-screens — will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
It is the first in western New York but unlikely to be the last.
“I would say, depending on how well Rochester does, I think Buffalo is going to be coming up soon,” said Greenleaf, a San Francisco Bay-area native who has been with the company for 18 years. “We’re going through an East Coast/Midwest expansion right now, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for growth.”
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse readies for opening in Henrietta NY