"Entrepreneurship is the relentless pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled." - HBS
David Lee was exposed to fine Japanese cuisine at a young age, as his father ran a highly respected Japanese restaurant for over twenty years.
David, initially pursued a career in engineering, but later in life, he would emerge as one of California's most prominent restaurateurs as founder of the popular Kabuki Japanese Restaurant brand, spanning four states including Arizona, Nevada, and Texas with over 1,200 employees. David holds BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering. While working as an engineer, his passion for the restaurant business grew so David entered the Collins School of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. To continue the process of his growth and development, David graduated from the OPM program at Harvard Business School.
President & CEO
Joan Lee has been in the restaurant industry for nearly 30 years. She opened her first Kabuki Japanese Restaurant alongside her husband in 1994 and has since expanded to over a dozen, multi-state, locations. Joan is knowledgable in every aspect of the restaurant industry from scouting a potential site to smoothly overseeing day-to-day operations. Joan has been in charge of the Operations Department at Kabuki Japanese Restaurants Inc. since 1998 and continues to maintain an efficient and successful front of house and back of house operation at all her Kabuki Japanese Restaurant locations. Joan is best known for her approachability, humility, and genuine care for her team.
"Laughter is brightest where food is best." - Irish Proverb
Paul lee grew up in Busan, Korea. He worked in a Japanese restaurant while attending college. Paul moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career after college, he joined Kabuki Japanese restaurant. Paul found his true passion remained in cooking. The idea of operating restaurant had always been in his mind since his teenage years.
Los Angeles is a cultural melting pot. While living there, Paul was exposed to ethnic cuisines from around the globe. The unique taste of different ethnic food inspired Paul to incorporate those ingredients and spices into his Japanese dishes, which later became his cooking style. In his dishes, guests will find traditional Japanese cuisine with touch of mixture of Asian culture.
Paul got promoted to Kaizen Dining Group, BOH operations, his experience of 20 years combined into Kabuki's food. He is a believer of local sourcing. He understands the contributions local farmers have for the community and uses seasonal ingredients in his dishes whenever possible. Paul maintains a positive and responsible attitude toward sustainability in both the fish and ingredients he chooses and the dishes he creates.
Anna Lee Salvador
Director of Human Resources
"To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna has always had a passion for people and the hospitality industry. She first entered Kaizen Dining Group in 2004 at Kabuki Foothill in Pasadena, CA. Since then, Anna has worked as a Host, Food Runner, Server, Floor Manager, and General Manager before joining the corporate team in 2017 as the Front of House Operations Manager and Guest Relations Specialist. With her extensive front of house experience, she brings compassion and expertise to the Operations Team. Anna is responsible for working hands-on with store managers and their front of house teams to ensure that our guests experience excellence in service when dining with us. When not working, Anna enjoys going on adventures with her husband and two dogs - Rookie and Mika.
Honorary Executive Chef
"Life is too short, enjoy every moment" - Self
Born in Tokyo, Kurihara began his career at age 18, working in a French restaurant—starting as a dishwasher—while attending the prestigious Tokyo Culinary School. After graduation, Kurihara had the opportunity to work at Tokyo's famous Imperial Hotel. In 1976, the young chef arrived in Washington, D.C. to work for the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, cooking for formal receptions and banquets. When not in the kitchen, Chef Masa enjoys golfing and trying out new restaurants in Los Angeles.
Chef / Co-Founder of Pikunico
"Giving and receiving is one" - Self
Chef Kuniko was born in Maebashi, Japan, and moved to California after switching careers from the finance to cooking, and has not been able to leave this sunny state ever since. Her culinary aspirations blossomed in the kitchen of Michelin-starred Sona and moved quickly through the ranks in a few short years to Chef de Cuisine, working side by side with famed Chef David Myers until its closing in 2010. Chef Kuniko's portfolio includes involvement in ambitious projects like Comme Ça West Hollywood and its' second location at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as well as the pioneering of award-winning Hinoki & the Bird in Century City. She is also recognized as a TV favorite during her time on Bravo's Top Chef, as well as countless mentions in top publications including Food & Wine, ELLE magazine, Esquire, Bon Appetit, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and LA Weekly. Fame and awards aside, Chef Kuniko feels happiest when she is in a bustling kitchen filled with people who love to cook. In partnership with Kaizen Dining Group, Chef Kuniko created Pikunico, which is her first restaurant concept that represents her sentiments of both her past in Japan and present in California. When not at the stove, Kuniko spends her time surfing, knitting and walking her handsome German Shepherd, Hinoki, in Venice Beach.
Director of Operations
"Never give up" - Anonymous
As a kid, Joe spent his summer's working at various food establishments- this is where his love for the restaurant industry began. Joe loved that good food was a universal language and that great service could truly transform the experience of all those he would proudly serve. Joe first entered Kaizen Dining Group in 2005 as a busser and has since worked his way up to a Front of House Operations Manager. Joe is mainly responsible for training and maintaining the day-to-day operations of all Kabuki Japanese Restaurant locations. Joe brings order, knowledge, and passion to the corporate team. When not working- Joe enjoys fishing and worshiping God with his 2 sons and beautiful wife, Sonia.
Genie S. Alwaili
Director of Creative Marketing
"Creativity takes courage" - Henri Matisse
Genie is a creative innovator and design expert with more than twenty years of expertise creating impactful visual brand solutions. Earlier year, Genie has worked with the Disney Studio, Burbank California, as an In-house Graphic Artist. She pursued her career with Kabuki Japanese restaurant's graphic design department and built experience in corporate branding, package design, publications, and comprehensive menu design. Genie is certified with Adobe Creative Suite.
"Good management consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people." - John D. Rockefeller
Abel started his career as a busser at Kabuki Woodland Hills (California) in 2009 and since then he worked his way up to management. Over the years Abel managed multiple locations and worked with countless FOH and BOH teams. He loved making first time customers into loyal Kabuki customers by ensuring all their needs were met with a smile. He joined Kaizen Dinning Group at the beginning of 2023 as a Front of House Operations Manager. Abel is mainly responsible for training and maintaining the day-to-day operations of all Kabuki Japanese Restaurant locations and with all those years of experience and knowledge we couldn't be happier to have him do so. On his free time, Abel enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter outdoors or just hanging out with friends and family. Find him at one of our Kabuki locations!
"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. And, if you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Amie started her amazing career with Kabuki Japanese Restaurants back in 2003. She worked as a server at our Howard Hugh Center in Los Angeles Ca for over 4 years before moving on to other locations. Amie over the years worked at over 5 locations all throughout California. She even helped open some of our favorite stores such as Burbank, Rancho Cucamonga, Huntington Beach, Old Pasadena, and even our out of state location Glendale, AZ. Amie joined Kaizen Dining Group in late December 2022. With her extensive customer service, she brings compassion and expertise to our Operations Team. Amie is responsible for working with our store managers firsthand to ensure that our service standards are always met. When not working, Amie loves to take care of her beautiful garden as well as her newly obtained indoor plants. Kaizen's very own Green Thumb.
"A manager is not a person who can do the work better than his men; he is a person who can get his men to do the work better than he can." - Frederick W. Smith
Jun was born and raised in Korea but decided to move in 2010 to pursue his love for Japanese cuisine. He joined Kabuki Japanese Restaurants in 2013 at our Howard Hughes location. There we worked his way up from a prep to one of our most respectable kitchen managers. Over the years his passion for operating restaurants grew and he knew that would be his calling. Jun graduated college with a degree in Art, which made him a great asset when it came to having an eye for detail. His knowledge and determination lead him to work at multiple locations such as Pasadena and Huntington Beach. Jun joined Kaizen Dining group at the end of 2022 as a BOH Manager and has been a great addition to our team ever since.
Director of Purchasing & Maintenance
"How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top."
At Kaizen Dining Group, Timothy Lee brings his unwavering dedication and expertise in purchasing and maintenance to ensure exceptional dining experiences. With an impressive track record of research and collaboration with vendors, he is committed to sourcing the finest products for developing the highest quality of food. Timothy's keen eye for detail and proactive approach enable him to troubleshoot any hurdles swiftly, ensuring seamless operations with equipment and machinery across all in our stores. He is known for his promptness in resolving issues, ensuring minimal disruptions and maximizing customer satisfaction. When faced with the unprecedented pandemic crisis, Timothy embraced it as an opportunity to innovate and overcome a tremendous challenge and is glad to have endured through the worst of it with the team. His unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of excellence have played a pivotal role in steering our organization towards remarkable success. It was demonstrated that he embraces obstacles head-on, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to solving problems and achieving exceptional results. With him at the helm, we can be assured of exceptional quality, smooth operations, and a relentless pursuit of excellence.
Director of Accounting
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." - Elbert Hubbard
Jayden Park is a valued member of the team at KDG and has been instrumental in bringing a new accounting system along with the necessary software to enhance company financial operations. With a passion for constructing and setting reliable financial data, he is dedicated to helping companies achieve their goals and empowering individuals to reach their personal milestones within the organization.
While still in the growth phase with the company, one of Jayden's key strengths lies in showcasing the current financial status of projects under Kaizen Dining Group. His focus is on creating a robust and comprehensive financial data framework that management and employees can utilize, reference, and leverage for both the company's development and individual growth within the organization. By providing accurate and up-to-date financial information, he aims to facilitate informed data-driven decision-making processes that drive success and foster a culture of achievement.
Outside of work, Jayden has a unique preference for sugar and enjoys adding it generously to his coffee. This quirk, coupled with his dedication towards accuracy and reliability, may lead some to perceive him as unconventional or quirky. However, like sugar itself, he is simply a unique and delightful addition to the team, bringing a distinct flavor to our collaborative efforts.
"We tend to think of meditation in only one way. But life itself is a meditation." - Raul Julia
Meet Ellen, our exceptional Accounting Manager with a passion for both numbers and human connection. With her expertise in crunching company financials, Ellen plays a pivotal role in ensuring our financial records are accurate and transparent. Beyond her proficiency in accounting, Ellen possesses a unique quality - a genuine love for building connections with others. Drawing from her vast experiences, she uses her interpersonal skills to foster stronger bonds within our team and with our valued clients. Due to this distinct capability, Ellen is able to exemplify important human elements to her role and Kaizen Dining Group. Her ability to bridge the gap between numbers and people sets her apart and creates an environment of trust and collaboration. Outside of work, Ellen enjoys expressing her thoughts and emotions through art and writing. She practices meditation often and hopes to continue to convey comfort and love to the people around her.
Accounting | Administration
"You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together." - Anthony Bourdain
Roy Cho joined Kaizen Dining Group because of his passion for developing more human connections over delicious food. Since he was a child, Roy grew up moving between different countries and had the chance to experience how food can bring people together. As a member of the Administrative and Finance team, Roy leverages his graduate degree in Economics from University of Southern California to analyze data, track economic trends, and streamline processes whenever possible. Beyond numbers and spreadsheets, Roy's background includes 5 years of managing the customer service center at USC Housing. When not working, Roy enjoys dancing Salsa and Bachata through the night.
Accounting | Operations Support
"Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates
Reanna Moon is a dedicated professional with a profound love for working with people and a strong background in the hospitality industry. After gaining valuable experience with Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, she also pursued a different path and became a Registered Nurse. She has worked in multiple different industries including medical, real estate, marketing, and insurance. Through her experiences, she came to believe that food is our actual, God-given medicine and it became a dedication to help others make individualized choices in terms of healthy eating and nutrition. Driven by a genuine passion and allure for the food and hospitality industry, she aims to keep up with industry trends, staying updated on the latest innovations and techniques. She joined Kaizen Dining Group in hopes that her dedication, adaptability, and love for food and hospitality will make her an asset to the team's continued growth. With her unwavering enthusiasm for working with people and her invaluable experience in several industries, Reanna is committed to creating remarkable experiences and making a positive impact on the lives of others. Outside of work, she enjoys making music, playing tennis or golf, and watching UFC fights.
Chef / Co-Founder of Hibi
"Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learn" - John Maxwell
Albert is no stranger when it comes to Kabuki or the restaurant scene. He studied Hotel and Restaurant management and his first job was actually within the walls of our first location at Kabuki Pasadena. He moved up the ranks from busboy to management and before getting too comfortable, decided to dive into the back of house to better understand the restaurant as a whole. After obtaining his culinary degree, he spent the next few years at Providence LA, touted as the best restaurant in Los Angeles and only restaurant to receive Michelin stars in the city at the time. Armed with a recommendation letter from the Chef commending his work ethic, Albert spent the next 5 years in NYC working with some of the top restaurants / Chefs the city had to offer. He is now back with us and hopes to bring some fresh perspective to the table in this ever changing industry