Spotlight on Franchisees
 min read

From Businessman to Business Owner

Paul Kim tried his hand at start-ups with independent restaurant ventures before he discovered Sticky Fingers Cooking was the right fit for his aspirations.

Paul Kim knew he wanted to branch out from his steady career in finance to something else that spoke to his innate interests and skills.

“I thought about being a school teacher as a career, but the pay and dealing with bureaucracy discouraged me from pursuing that dream,” the 49-year old from Dallas says.

Instead he followed a path to corporate finance, primarily at investment banks where he held positions such as Vice President and Underwriter for commercial real estate loans. He rattles off a list of well-known banks such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

“It wasn’t something I ever truly loved, but the pay was good,” he says. “I enjoyed the people and the work was interesting at times, just not satisfying.”


Finding Ways to Feel Full

While Paul worked at his safe jobs, he found ways to satisfy his craving for more meaningful experiences.

“I volunteered at Junior Achievement and served as a Big Brother,” he says. “I also tutor my nephew in math.”

Paul found himself inspired by food and other restaurant concepts he tried while traveling. After a visit to Los Angeles, he got an idea for a taco food truck that was a hybrid of poke and TexMex. He called it Tacoeria and opened in Austin. “I never got that ‘rock star’ location,” he says of the business that lasted less than a year.

Next, he was dining at a restaurant in Palo Alto near family when he tried a fast casual salad place, which he described as toppings such as meat and other proteins being cooked in front of you before being added to a fresh salad. He returned to Texas and opened Endive that imitated this salad style, but again found himself challenged by the location and eventually closed.


Sampling the Franchise Business Model

It was around this time that Paul says he was approached by a franchise broker to see if he might be interested in a franchise business.

“I wasn’t crazy about a lot of them,” Paul says candidly. “A lot of the franchises that I looked at felt very aggressive, there wasn’t any sense of ‘we’re in this together’.”

He lost interest in the possibility of franchising, but then found himself between jobs and decided to go to the National Franchise Show in Dallas in February 2024 because he still felt the desire to work for himself.

“I met Erin and Julie at their booth,” he says of meeting Sticky Fingers Cooking founder Erin Fletter and Director of Franchise Development, Julie Scher. “Everything I got from Sticky Fingers Cooking was very much a collaborative effort, and everything was very reasonable and fair. It made me feel like we’re in this together.”

He also made a good first impression.

“When we met Paul in Dallas, it was clear we were going to continue the conversation,” says Erin Fletter, founder and CEO of Sticky Fingers Cooking. “He is absolutely the perfect franchise owner for this company! It means so much that he has a background in finance and business ownership and immediately saw the value in our company.”

Julie comments: “Paul was looking for a solid business investment and a way to fulfill his passions. Sticky Fingers Cooking seemed to fulfill both for him.”

The fact that Paul has experience as a business owner and finance meant that his review of the business before signing was thorough. “He read the FDD [Franchise Disclosure Document] about ten times,” Erin says. “He  immediately understood the business model, and that the numbers all make sense. He saw the opportunity to find that balance of owning a lucrative small business, and have that positive community impact that he had been craving. Paul is laid-back, fiercely smart, and one of the funniest people out there. We are thrilled to welcome him to the team–and can’t wait for him to make some Korean Tacos for us soon!”

Paul adds, “It feels like a great family with good values and that they want all of us to succeed.”

Time for a Taste of Franchising

Paul describes himself as a foodie, and said that he has strong feelings about the importance of food and community.

“I’ve always loved cooking and continue to cook a lot for friends today,” he says. “I’m always trying to eat healthier and love that Sticky Fingers Cooking is vegetarian.”

He is still getting familiar with the Sticky Fingers Cooking recipes so doesn’t have a favorite yet, but there was that yummy banana pudding he sampled in a class he visited–and he’s still talking about it.

“The thing about food is that everybody has an opinion,” he says. “It’s a very social thing, like music, everybody loves to eat.”

Paul’s Sticky Fingers Cooking territory includes over 200 public and private schools that he describes as some of the most prestigious in the country.

“I like the guidance of doing something that has proven to be successful already,” he says of starting a franchise business.

If you can relate to Paul’s story, maybe a Sticky Fingers Cooking home-based franchise business is right for you too. We’d love to hear from you and see if this is a good fit. Click here to tell us about yourself and we’ll be in touch soon.

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