It’s not every day the words, “That’s some of the best food I’ve ever eaten,” leave the mouths of the notoriously hard-to-impress investors on “Shark Tank.” But when it comes to Chi’Lantro’s Korean BBQ and kimchi fries, it’s a no-brainer.
Jae Kim, founder of the Austin, Texas-based Korean-Mexican restaurant, is proof that the “American Dream” is alive and well. After financially supporting himself through college, Kim was able to save enough money to kickstart his business, which would eventually expand from food trucks to fast-casual restaurants.
Not to mention, his perseverance landed him a spot on “Shark Tank,” after trying two other times before.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Kim said. “I loved preparing for the show. I brought back my past memories and experiences to prepare for the show, and that experience gave me the opportunity to go through a lot of emotions. At the end of the day, I had to be myself in front of the Sharks.”
Kim went into the Tank seeking $600,000 in exchange for a 15 percent stake. Shockingly, the majority of the Sharks weren’t biting at the bits to offer a deal. Nevertheless, the taste of Chi’Lantro’s Korean BBQ prevailed, and the sizzle didn’t stop there.
Aside from the pitch, he said the process itself also helped shape him as a person and an entrepreneur. “During this process, I learned to be more connected to people,” Kim said. “Professionally, I was exposed to the world that gave me bigger dreams.”
Bigger dreams, indeed. According to Kim, Chi’Lantro is growing methodically.
“Expanding a restaurant business is about scaling the culture,” Kim said. “We put a lot of thought and effort into growing and developing people that want to learn and make progress in their life. Due to the result of developing great people, we’ve been growing at a pace of 20 percent year over year.”
Watch as Kim impresses the Sharks on
tonight at 9P ET on CNBC.