The Hawk Eye featured Teriyaki Madness franchisees, Theresa & Adam Thielen talking about one of the most successful Teriyaki Madness shop openings yet! Read the full article, below!

Former funeral home directors Adam and Theresa Thielen own the chain locally

Japan has given our country amazing things: Karaoke, Godzilla, sumo wrestlers and sushi.

While we do have raw fish and California rolls in southeast Iowa and, unfortunately, karaoke, we don’t have to deal with roly-poly men in diapers or that big ugly lizard.

And now we have teriyaki, thanks to Adam and Theresa Thielen of Burlington, who opened the 51st Teriyaki Madness franchise in Burlington last week.

Teriyaki Madness is a fast-casual chain out of Las Vegas. They offer made-to-order dishes prepared with all-natural, fresh ingredients. Founded in 2003 by two brothers and a cousin who moved from Seattle to Vegas for college and were unable to find their beloved teriyaki there, they opened the first Teriyaki Madness. Burlington is the chain’s 51st store. The only other Iowa location is in Bettendorf.

The 2,000 square-foot restaurant seats 50 people indoors and created 20 new jobs.

All Teriyaki Madness sauces are made in-house, and each bowl is built separately, made to order. Everything is fresh except the potstickers, but that’s OK – Americans are acclimated to frozen potstickers. Everything else is made right there in the kitchen.

“We serve fresh bowls of awesomeness,” said Theresa. “As corny as it sounds, it’s true.”

She said some people may likely eat there all the time.

“It’s going to be pretty busy for awhile.”

The soy sauce is gluten-free and the teriyaki sauce is made in-house — and delicious. Sugar cane is used instead of corn syrup.

Many of the recipes feature chicken, moist and grilled to perfection.

Teriyaki sauce is, basically, jazzed-up soy sauce. Although both are used frequently in the same dishes, they vary in a number of ways.

Soy sauce is mostly composed of a water and salt base with the addition of fermented soybean paste. Teriyaki sauce uses soy sauce as a base, but includes a number of other ingredients to produce a sweeter flavor than soy’s saltiness: sugar, ginger and garlic are commonly used.

Teriyaki is a cooking technique in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze. Fish is mainly used in Japan, while chicken, pork and beef are common in the West.

The word teriyaki derives from a Japanese word “teri” referring to the luster given by the sugar content, and “yaki,” meaning grilled or broiled.

About 30 people attended Tuesday’s sneak-peek event. Theresa Thielen got a huge round of applause when introduced by TeriMad’s senior training manager, Shanlee Kasson.

“This is the biggest media event I’ve ever attended, and I’ve done 34 shops,” Kasson said.

“This is fun for us, because we’re a little new to this business,” Theresa said.

Husband Adam followed up with, “The big question is: How do you go from the funeral service to this?”

The Thielen family has a long history in the local funeral home business. Having gotten out of the funeral business, the couple was looking for something to get into when they ate at a Teriyaki Madness in Las Vegas and wondered, “Could this work in Burlington?”

“We knew we had to bring one to our hometown,” they said.

A Bob Marley poster on the restaurant’s “chatter wall” says it all: “When one door is closed, don’t you know another is open.”

Manager Bob Lessner put in 14 years with Subway before taking the TeriMad position with the Thielens.

“I drive people to Madness,” he quipped. Not literally: You’ll have to find your own way out there before he can make his magic. The restaurant is located next to All About Eyes on Lawrence Drive off West Avenue or Mason Road.

An informal poll afterward revealed teriyaki chicken was the most popular, with spicy teriyaki chicken and yakisoba noodles as runners-up.

“They were all 11 on a scale of 10,” Burlington mayor Shane McCampbell said.

Julia Thielen, 11, said, “I’ll probably eat here every day.” Her sister Claire, 9, agreed, saying her favorite was potstickers.

“The freshness of the food — I can’t believe the fresh, never-frozen chicken,” Theresa said.

“Whatever Momma said,” Adam concluded with a grin.

Hours are daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit to see a menu or call 753-BOWL for more information.

Are you ready to

Join the Madness?

The people have spoken, and they want Teriyaki. Asian and Fast Casual are the two fastest growing segments in the restaurant industry. Join the Japanese franchise revolution and give people what they want: HUGE BOWLS OF AWESOMENESS!


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