Flame Broiler is a company that is famous for their large roster of quick-serve meals. Everything on their menu is healthy, and their core foods are tofu, rice, beef, blanched vegetables, and chicken. Since their establishment in 1995, the company has grown to nearly two-hundred locations across seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Oklahoma, Idaho, and North Carolina. The brand is proud to say that they are free of trans-fat, dairy, and skins and they use no HFCS or fryers.

Recently marketing manager Daniel Lee--and son of the company’s founder--granted an exclusive interview where he discussed this company and his aspirations for its future.

Food, health, and work

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in working with foods and decide to work at Flame Broiler?

Daniel Lee (DL): It was never the original intention of my father or me to get into the food business, but after a personal experience with his health caused him to have an epiphany and reevaluate his approach to food and overall diet, it was something he set out to pursue. For me, seeing the passion, he brings to work every day and his want to improve the lives of those everywhere was something that I found extremely inspiring. It made me also want to take part in the bigger picture.

MM: What is the main goal behind Flame Broiler?

DL: Flame Broiler is best known for serving simple, healthy and delicious rice bowls on-the-go, with the ultimate mission of making clean, healthy and simple food more accessible conveniently and affordably.

My father Young Lee was inspired to create Flame Broiler after his own experience with poor health. His first job post-college was as an insurance salesman that required him to be on the road during meal times. As a result, he ate very unhealthily at every fast food chain imaginable. Soon after, he fell ill, and numerous medical professionals were unable to diagnose him.

He ended up leaving his job, started eating right and immediately saw a change in his health. After this experience, he saw an opportunity in the fast food industry for a healthy, quick-serve alternative. He went on to open the very first Flame Broiler restaurant in Orange County, CA with the goal of helping others improve their overall quality of life through their eating habits.

Our core menu features rice bowls that start at only 140 calories, and are made with non-GMO white or brown rice, Angus beef, all-natural chicken or organic charbroiled tofu, freshly blanched vegetables, and topped with chopped green onions. At Flame Broiler, we use no dairy, trans-fat, skin, fryers or HFCS.

MM: Was it difficult to get Flame Broiler off the ground and keep it afloat?

DL: Apart from a lot of hard work, it’s been pretty straight-forward and smooth sailing. Flame Broiler was never meant to have grown as large as it has – anything beyond the first store has just been considered a bonus and as another step towards making the world a healthier place.

Growth, reactions, and goals

MM: How has the Flame Broiler company grown since its inception?

DL: Flame Broiler is an OC-based business that originated in 1995 and is close to approaching 200 locations – a milestone we will most likely achieve by 2018’s end. While the majority of these locations are either in Orange County or Los Angeles since inception Flame Broiler has also expanded into Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Idaho, Oklahoma and Florida. We’ve never had a “salesman” per say – our new franchisees are entirely from word-of-mouth, and from prior customers that just loved our product.

MM: What have been the best reactions to Flame Broiler so far?

DL: As a company, we do not advertise to franchisees in order to grow the business. All of our growth has been organic and inbound – meaning that each and every location has been a blessing in that it stemmed from an authentic interest in and excitement for the brand.

At Flame Broiler, we get extremely excited when people share our vision and ultimate goal, and believe in the company enough to do their part.

And as we approach 200 locations, it means the interest is there for consumers as well, which we appreciate and cherish. Overall, it means that consumers and business owners are all a part of this movement towards better-for-you food and meal choices – which is all we’ve ever wanted as a brand. We also get stories of people turning around their health, with eating our food a significant part of their story. We love seeing customers that didn’t realize healthy fast food can taste good try our food and end up being a loyal fan!

MM: What ultimate goals do you still hope to achieve via the company?

DL: On par with our ultimate mission, goals for us include spreading our healthy, simple and affordable food to the maximum amount of people possible. As we have expanded into new states, this has allowed us to widen our reach and improve more lives. We’re always trying to raise the quality of what we serve, while simultaneously having minimal impact on the price for the consumer. We hope that one day as a result of trying our food, healthy & affordable QSR will become the status quo that consumers demand.

MM: What is currently going on, or in the works for Flame Broiler, that you wish to discuss?

DL: We’re working with the American Heart Association to help further their mission of making America “heart healthy” via proper exercise and diet – which is where we fit in.

We partner with them in a variety of ways and at community events to help them achieve this goal. Also, we are in the midst of a total re-brand, which includes a new logo, interior design, signage and method of food preparation to modernize and improve the ordering process for customers.