Getting to Know: Flavor Boom!
The genesis of Flavor Boom! occurred when a bike accident triggered a realization—an epiphany that propelled Jim Tao from the structured world of private equity to the chaotic yet thrilling realm of culinary entrepreneurship - Jim needed to do something for himself outside of the hustle and bustle of the corporate routine. Life is too short. Beyond the vibrant signage and welcoming aroma of home-cooked delicacies, Jim's story unfolds, revealing a fusion of corporate expertise and an unwavering love for food and travel.
A World Tour
"I always loved food, and we have this really innovative concept of how do we bring the best home-cooked meal around the world to people in the US? Because to be honest, we feel like if you want to have really good food and fast - there's not that many choices in the United States," Jim reflects on the unconventional origins of Flavor Boom!. The concept was simple yet bold—to offer a curated selection of 10 dishes, each a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean influences, drawing inspiration from Jim's extensive travels to over 63 countries.
Jim's love for food and travel traces back to his childhood, a passion that continued to grow throughout his professional career. "Food and travel are my hobbies. Lucky enough, I have a job that allowed me to travel around," he shares, painting a picture of a globetrotter who found joy in exploring local cuisines, particularly street food and home-cooked meals. These experiences became the cornerstone of Flavor Boom!'s menu, an homage to the diverse culinary traditions Jim encountered during his global escapades.
What sets Flavor Boom! apart isn't just its diverse menu or Jim's extensive travels; it's the innovative spirit that led him and his partner, Harrison, to venture into the restaurant business with minimal experience. "We really tried very hard to learn how the restaurant business works," Jim confesses. The lack of a professional culinary background didn't deter them; instead, it became the catalyst for innovation.
Opening a restaurant wasn't entirely uncharted territory for Harrison, who, despite being a recent graduate with a master's degree in communication, harbored a deep-seated passion for cooking. Together, Jim and Harrison embraced the challenge, learning the ropes of the restaurant business on the fly. "One of the things that bring us together a lot is food and the willingness to learn and work hard," Jim acknowledges.
The early days of Flavor Boom! were a learning curve, navigating through operational intricacies and streamlining kitchen processes. "We try to simplify as many operations as we could from how you order to the kitchen operation," Jim explains. The focus remained unwavering—simplify without compromising on the taste and quality of the food.
With only 10 dishes on the menu, Flavor Boom! deliberately keeps its offerings concise. However, the limited selection doesn't compromise on diversity. Each dish is a testament to the time-tested flavors Jim encountered during his travels. "Beef rendang is one of the most popular dishes in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Red glazed pork is one of the most popular dishes in China. Octopus is my favorite and you might have that in Spain," Jim shares, elucidating the rationale behind each carefully curated item.
The name "Flavor Boom!" wasn't a hasty decision but a result of a creative brainstorming session with Jim's family. The name encapsulates the essence of the restaurant—a burst of flavor that transcends the mundane offerings of traditional fast food.
A New Challenge Appears
The journey wasn't without its challenges, especially considering that Flavor Boom! emerged during the tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We opened right in the middle of the COVID," says Jim, acknowledging the hurdles faced during the initial months. The pandemic-induced waves disrupted the restaurant's growth, but Jim's resilience and commitment to quality ensured that Flavor Boom! weathered the storm."We had really two or three months from December 2022 to March 2023 of very slow business because COVID kind of reappeared again," he recalls. The unpredictability of the pandemic tested the restaurant's resilience, but it also became an opportunity for introspection and innovation.
Despite the setbacks, Flavor Boom! persevered, garnering a loyal customer base. Jim recounts the story of a regular customer named Alex, who, in the restaurant's early days, visited twice a week for six months. Alex's dedication to Flavor Boom! epitomizes the restaurant's appeal—simple, home-cooked meals that resonate with customers on a personal level.
Flavor Boom!'s foray into the catering business has been an exciting effort. "We provide a very unique alternative to most catering food, whether it's pizza, whether it's sandwiches," Jim emphasizes, positioning Flavor Boom! as a game-changer in the catering landscape. "We have been lucky to work with CaterCow. Your customers have been giving us great feedback."
Looking toward the future, Flavor Boom! aims to expand its menu by introducing rotating items every three to six months. Jim envisions keeping the offerings fresh while retaining the essence of home-cooked comfort that defines Flavor Boom!. "Every three months, you have two new items on the menu and see how people get some freshness out of the things we cook beyond the 10 dishes we have," he reveals.