On three separate occasions since 2015, celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri has gotten a taste of Dae Gee Korean BBQ on his food reality television series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Soon, foodies all across the country will get the same opportunity, as the popular Denver-based restaurant chain recently announced plans to expand via franchising.

With five corporate-owned restaurants currently open and operating across Colorado’s Front Range (Aurora, Denver, Fort Collins and Westminster), the expansion plans will initially tackle other parts of the region, as well as bordering states such as Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. According to founder and CEO Joe Kim, company plans call for opening as many as 5-10 new restaurants by the end of 2022 and at least that many each year thereafter. 

The franchise expansion ultimately aims to go national. 

The expansion announcement comes at a time when Korean food continues to gain more popularity among U.S. consumers. With a complexity of different flavors and cuisine largely comprised of proteins, vegetables, grains and assorted spices, Korean food is a great choice for the health-conscious and clean-eating consumer. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

“Franchising has always been our long-term goal,” says Kim, noting that Dae Gee has already established itself as one the fastest growing Korean BBQ chains in Colorado. “The community support and encouragement that we’ve received over the years has prepared us for just this. We’re obsessed with offering the most dynamic food around and eager to introduce other communities, cities and states to our exceptional dining experience.” 

For much of his 20s, Kim worked in the family dry cleaning business until his mother-in-law, who had previously owned a Korean restaurant in Hawaii for many years, approached him with the idea of opening a Korean barbeque restaurant in the Denver area. They opened the very first Dae Gee restaurant in the Denver suburb of Westminster in 2012 and have since been captivating a wide audience with Kim’s own brand of youthful energy and his mother-in-law’s homemade recipes.

Today, Dae Gee has firmly anchored itself as a modern full-service Korean barbeque spot progressively blending Korean food tradition with American culture.

“Dae Gee which means pig in Korean is about pigging out or pigout,” says Kim. “Doing everything to the maximum whether it’s a crazy red mohawk [like the one Kim sports] or having a trendy look to pushing the limits of how things are done.” 

The restaurants expose customers to an interactive experience that allows them to cook their own meat on grill tops at their tables when they dine. The traditional Korean meats like Galbee (Beef Shot Ribs), Sam Gyeob Sal (Sliced Pork Belly) and Dak Bulgogi (Chicken) are marinated in Dae Gee’s secret marinade and can be enjoyed in a bowl or hot stone pot, or tucked inside lettuce and eaten as a wrap. Fish and vegetarian options are also available. Entrees can be piled high with whatever you want to mix in: rice, fresh slaw, spicy sauce and a variety of nine side dishes, such as kimchee, broccoli, radish and fish cakes.

“Dae Gee lights up your senses and enriches the full human experience,” adds Kim. “From generations of recipes passed down, we leave our customers well fed with culture, humor, and top quality home recipe style Korean food.” 

To augment the company’s growth, Dae Gee is seeking franchise partners looking to get in on the ground floor of an emerging brand in the increasingly popular Korean cuisine industry. Including a franchise fee of $45,000, the total investment to open a 1,500-2,000 square-foot Dae Gee restaurant ranges from $679,375 to $954,125. On average, each restaurant employs as many as 10 people.

Chain Restaurants, Industry News, NextGen Casual, Dae Gee Korean BBQ