Three decades ago, chef/owner Su-Mei Yu founded Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken in a tiny storefront on India Street; in 2002, she opened sit-down restaurant Saffron Noodles and Saté adjacent to her original takeout eatery and in 2013 launched an outpost in the San Diego International Airport. Now, after authoring several successful cookbooks and hosting KPBS' Savor San Diego show, Yu has partnered with a local hospitality group to further develop and grow the Saffron brand.
Karina's Group, a family-owned collective that's celebrating its 35th anniversary this month, will provide support on the operational side of the business while Yu continues to oversee the kitchen, menu and recipes and guide the restaurant's overall culinary program and philosophies. Karina's, which runs several Karina's Mexican Seafood locations, will open Karina’s Ceviches & More in Yu's original chicken shop space; it will offer a condensed version of Karina’s regular menu along with some unique items.
Meanwhile, Saffron's sit-down restaurant will absorb its chicken operations and undergo a facelift sometime in early 2017. And there may be more Saffron restaurants to come, with Karina's providing the needed capital and guidance for development. Yu says, "Customers have asked me for many years when Saffron is going to expand to other parts of San Diego, now with the help of Karina’s we’ll be able to. I’m excited to work with fellow long-time San Diego restaurateurs like myself to grow and enhance the Saffron brand."