WABA GRILL NAMES ANDREW KIM PRESIDENT & CEO
CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. (March 3, 2021) – WaBa Grill, one of the nation’s leading healthy rice bowl chains, is proud to announce the promotion of Andrew Kim to President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Kim brings with him over 30 years of franchise law experience, having extensively represented both sides of the franchisor-franchisee relationship domestic and abroad, and is also one of a small number of attorneys recognized as Certified Legal Specialists in Franchise and Distribution Law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. This news follows hot on the heels of WaBa Grill announcing that 2020 was the brand’s best sales year ever, beating out 2019 which held the previous record, and already enjoying double-digit sales growth in 2021 as compared to the same pre-pandemic period last year.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, WaBa Grill was founded by Kyle Lee, Brian Ham and Eric Lee on the idea that healthy food made with fresh, quality ingredients should be delicious and accessible to all. With the goal of creating a better-for-you Asian-American fusion concept offering bold flavors at a great value and grab-and-go speed, WaBa Grill was born. The three founders remain equally involved in the brand today, providing strategic direction and guidance for the growing rice bowl chain, including the assembly of an experienced, seasoned leadership team to maximize the potential of the brand. Additional promotions include Mark Finnegan to Chief Marketing and Information Officer, formerly Vice President of Marketing and Technology, Renny Freet to Chief Organizational and Human Resources Officer, formerly Senior Vice President of Operations Services and Training, and Afshin Compani to Chief Restaurant and Development Officer, formerly Vice President of Franchise Operations.
“It has been a privilege to represent WaBa Grill throughout the brand’s history and play a role in its evolution over the years, and I am honored that the company founders have entrusted me with these new responsibilities as President and CEO,” said Kim. “This trust reflects the ownership’s confidence in our entire team of outstanding and committed professionals to strategically grow the company in units and sales while building even stronger emotional connections with our guests and franchisees.”
Kim has been closely involved with WaBa Grill since its founding in 2006 as its outside legal advisor, representing and counseling the brand on corporate legal and franchise matters. He then joined WaBa Grill corporate as its Chief Legal Officer in 2018, overseeing business and legal affairs with an emphasis on restructuring and reorganizing the company. Now as President and CEO, Kim will leverage his long history with the brand, as well as his longstanding experience as a franchise attorney, to lead WaBa Grill in its next phase of growth. This will include strengthening franchisee support and guidance, nurturing relationships with the company’s dedicated team members, and building meaningful connections with guests in every community WaBa serves.
Kim continued, “After experiencing year after year of success in Southern California and parts of Arizona, there is tremendous growth potential for the brand in both existing markets and new territories across the U.S. in need of a healthy fast casual concept like ours. The future is bright for WaBa Grill, and I’m proud to be continuing the journey as President and CEO during such an exciting time of growth for the brand!”
For 15 years, WaBa Grill has been serving its famous rice bowls, plates and salads made with fresh vegetables, healthy grains and high-quality proteins including fresh, never frozen chicken, marinated ribeye steak, wild-caught salmon, jumbo shrimp and organic tofu, all prepared to order on an open-fire grill and customized with a variety of flavorful sauces including the fan favorite, WaBa Sauce. Along with takeout and curbside pickup, guests may place orders via the WaBa Rewards App for always low-cost delivery along with any of WaBa’s third-party delivery partners, DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates.
The nearly 200-unit brand is primed to continue expansion having identified ideal markets throughout the west and is seeking new franchise partners looking to expand their portfolios with an established healthy fast casual brand on the rise. For more details about partnering with WaBa Grill, visit www.wabagrill.com/franchise.