On April 10, Baja Fresh CEO David Kim appeared on the CBS series "Undercover Boss," and gave away one of the largest offerings in the show's history when he offered a Baja Fresh franchise – valued at more than $50,000 – and personal mentoring to Las Vegas general manager Jose Manzanarez.
The Baja Fresh chain has 255 restaurants in 24 states and Dubai. Kim said he wanted to go on CBS' hit show to reconnect with employees and to ensure the company's passion for freshness. The executive says he was extremely pleased with what he saw.
Kim was the latest executive to appear on the Emmy-nominated show, which follows high-profile chief executives as they slip anonymously into the rank and file of their companies. The show, currently in its second season, was television's No. 1 new series in 2009-2010, setting a record for the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series in television history.
For his stint on "Undercover Boss," Kim worked with Manzanarez, Rami Mohammed Abuelhawa, a general manager, Carrie McCharness, a district manager, and Anthony Abinuman, a cashier.
Like Manzanarez, each earned a reward from Kim for dedicated service to Baja Fresh: Abuelhawa of Mesa, Ariz., received $5,000 toward his education and another $5,000 for a vacation with his father and a year's mentoring from Kim; McCharness, based in Boise, Idaho, received $5,000 for her business-building ideas and $7,500 for her daughter's education; and Abinuman, who works at the Cypress, Calif., Baja Fresh location, received $15,000 to support his family and $2,500 for his uncle's ministry.
"I always believed in the benefits of eating well, being active and making contributions to the communities in which we live. But being a CEO has so much more to do with people than with business," Kim said. "Going undercover merely reminded me of all the reasons I am so passionate about the Baja Fresh family and the guests we serve."