I fell in love with the TOUS les JOURS brand over 25 years ago when my wife and I would frequent the location by our home in South Korea—the brand’s signature Cloud cakes soon becoming a staple at all our celebrations. My passion for the brand transcended the largest ocean and thousands of miles, and I am extremely proud to lead the U.S. division of CJ Foodville USA, the parent company of TOUS les JOURS. Since joining the team 10 years ago and becoming CEO in 2017, I have focused on growing TOUS les JOURS’ foothold in the U.S. with the goal of establishing the brand as a major player in the fast-casual bakery and café sector. What started as a singular French-Asian bakery in Guri, South Korea in 1997 has proudly exploded into a bakery empire with nearly 1,700 stores around the world, including more than 90 locations in the United States.
Our strong franchise system fuels our expansion in the United States, and we are very grateful to be experiencing heightened franchise interest and growth, with many new franchisees opening TOUS les JOURS cafés in their own markets. Asian Americans are extremely familiar with TOUS les JOURS’ concept and unwavering commitment to providing freshly baked, high-quality goods. Since the brand’s arrival in the U.S. in 2004, we have been embraced by these communities, which further cemented our success and reputation as a beloved bakery café chain. Moreover, we are witnessing customers become franchisees as they recognize the at-tractive business opportunity that TOUS les JOURS presents—a path similar to my own experience with the brand.
Each year we see exponentially more franchise interest, allowing us to achieve rapid, yet sustainable, growth. In 2022, we opened 14 locations across the United States—a record-breaking growth metric for our bakery—and our business development team inked nearly 50 development deals from coast to coast. This past year was another substantial growth year for TOUS les JOURS, which was on track to open more than 20 new locations, catapulting the brand beyond the 110-store milestone in the U.S.
Now more than ever, I am confident that TOUS les JOURS will become a household name across the United States by 2030 and ultimately become the go-to destination for bread, pastries, beverages and, of course, our delightfully dreamy Cloud cakes.
What was your first job?
My first part-time job was as an administrator at a casual restaurant where I first learned about the restaurant industry, marketing strategy, and time management. My first full-time job after college was as an online merchandiser for a retail company. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about e-commerce and how to merchandise products effectively in a digital environment.
What’s your favorite menu item at TOUS les JOURS?
Our Cloud Cake is the outright winner in my book. Made with freshly whipped cream, seasonal berries, and soft sponge cake, it has just the right balance of sweetness. I’ve taken our Cloud Cake to countless birthdays, gatherings, and client meetings, and it’s always a hit with the guests, who often ask where they can get more from.
What’s your favorite cuisine outside of TOUS les JOURS?
Definitely Korean cuisine. Not only does it have a bit of that nostalgic factor since it is a taste of home for me, but it also is versatile with a simple range of spices and natural ingredients that caters to everyone. Korean cuisine also happens to align perfectly with our core brand values at TOUS les JOURS, which are freshness and variety as a typical Korean meal will consist of freshly made ingredients and an array of side dishes, and you can really taste the time and care that goes into each dish.
Who inspires you as a leader?
I am inspired by Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks. His leadership was key in Starbucks’ expansion, and the compassion-oriented culture he advocated towards his partners is truly admirable. He built a company that became a global household name by focusing on customer experience and employee empowerment while also introducing beverages and store formats that have come to revolutionize the coffee industry.
What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear?
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer to other restaurant executives is to keep a focus on their core strengths and values and to look for the solutions to problems within their organization. A strong, capable team that is empowered to collaborate and innovate is essential for success. Another key thing I’d like to share is to focus on the people. While TOUS les JOURS as a brand focuses on forming meaningful relationships with our communities and customers, none of this can be done without the people who per-form the work behind the scenes. Compensate them fairly and engage with them on a regular basis to make sure everyone feels valued for their work.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
When I’m not working, I enjoy hiking with my wife and our dog. Being outdoors and experiencing nature is a great way to recharge and stay active. Additionally, I make it a habit to visit a local coffee shop or restaurant every morning before heading to work to stay connected with trends and stay inspired.