Written by: Candace Jenkins
When one thinks of Asian cuisine, it doesn’t exactly bring to mind thoughts of southern fare, but Tennesseans have come to know Fulin’s Restaurant as a staple. Fulin’s Asian Cuisine had modest beginnings, with its owners emigrating from China several years ago – the American dream in their hearts. They planted their roots in Nashville, Tenn., quickly immersing themselves in its southern culture. The modest single-location restaurant soon became two, three and then four – eventually leading to 11 locations across Tennessee and Alabama.
The son and now prominent owner and entrepreneur, Brandon Lin, who moved to Tennessee a mere 11 years ago without speaking a word of English, has transformed Fulin’s with his young and energetic mindset, maintaining the family values and principles the restaurant was built upon. “We didn’t want to just be another one-location family operation, but instead really bring the Chinese culture to the south,” says Lin.
With the huge growth in the current market as of late, Nashville has become a hotbed for travelers and investors from all over the globe. This growth has invited massive expansion in the city’s restaurant community; more than 400 new restaurants sprouting up across the county in the past five years. Time has revealed that the originals either grow with the changes, or die out. Fortunately, Fulin’s has managed to grab ahold of the growth trend.
Lin believes Fulin’s success can mostly be attributed to their unique branding model – including an elegance brought to every aspect of the dining experience. “We offered something different, from the beginning. We wanted to bring a different take on your typical Chinese ‘take 0ut’ restaurant and make the Chinese culture and cuisine something to be celebrated,” he says.
Even though he grew up a restaurant kid, Lin has the heart and soul of an entrepreneur. Now with several years of restaurant leadership under his belt, he has taken Fulin’s to new heights. The restaurant was built upon tradition and there is where it remains – from sushi made by skillfully-trained chefs to traditional Asian food, but Lin wishes to embrace the millennial culture and form a modern fast casual take on the local favorite.
New sites are being forged for the Music City phenomenon that will only speak to the greatness of the past and the promise of a successful future. Lin has teamed up with some friends and restaurant investors from college to bring his new concept into development. “Fulin’s has always had a more mature and upscale crowd in mind, and now I think it’s time to focus on fast-casual. As the market and generations change and grow, we need to grow with them” says Lin.
For a deeper conversation about the Fulin’s expansion, check out the video interview below.