Kim was the latest executive to appear on CBS’s Emmy-nominated show, which follows high-profile chief executives as they slip anonymously into the rank and file of their companies. The show, currently in its second season, was television’s number one new series in 2009-2010, setting a record for the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series in television history.
David Kim is the CEO of Baja Fresh. He began his career in 1990 in the insurance industry, and then became a partner in Vantage International, an investment company specializing in the acquisition, renovation, building and liquidation of single-family dwellings in California. He also founded and later sold Video Town, a small video rental chain. In 1994 he founded Golden Den Corp. and RD Restaurant Group Inc., expanding the company to encompass three national brands and his own concept, and achieving $30-plus million in annual revenue and employing over 1,000 people.
In 2002, Wendy’s International purchased Baja Fresh for $275 million. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Wendy’s, the 249 restaurant chain saw consistently declining same store sales. In 2006, Wendy’s sold the roughly 300-location Baja Fresh chain for $31 million to a private investor consortium that operates other restaurants, including Sweet Factory, La Salsa, Cinnabon and Denny’s. The consortium is led by David Kim, who took on the role of CEO of the company.
In 2009, Baja Fresh moved its corporate headquarters from Thousand Oaks to Cypress, California, and closed all locations in central Ohio. Between 2009 and 2010, the chain closed stores in Berkeley, Pasadena and Torrance, CA.
Mr. Kim has established the Kim Family Foundation which supports several charitable causes. As a staunch advocate of scholastic achievement he has served as a guest speaker at banquets recognizing outstanding scholastic achievement in young adults.
Kim showed America what it means to give back when he offered a Baja Fresh franchise – valued at more than $50,000 – and personal mentoring to Las Vegas general manager Jose Manzanarez. The gift was among the biggest in the show’s history.