David Zhao’s Journey From Being a Teenage Freelancer to Building a $100 Million Restaurant Brand

Recognized by Forbes in their prestigious 30 Under 30 Food & Drink list for 2022, and together with his partner, Haibin Yang, David Zhao founded Chubby Cattle International (CCI), a multi-concept restaurant group that owns over 10 restaurants located nationwide, including renowned restaurants such as X-Pot, Chubby Cattle, and Michelin-starred Niku X

David and Haibin have revolutionized the traditional Chinese hot pot experience by incorporating cutting-edge technologies such as robotic servers and high-end laser projectors. These advancements have elevated Chubby Cattle to new heights, with five locations across the United States, $28 million in funding, and a projected revenue of $100 million this year.

However, the road to success was not without challenges. When David and Haibin opened their first Chubby Cattle restaurant in Las Vegas in 2013, they faced three years of financial struggle, with no salaries to sustain themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 presented a whole new set of obstacles. With Las Vegas under strict restrictions, David had to put expansion plans on hold. To fund their delayed projects, Zhao and Yang made the bold decision to sell their houses and cars.

According to Entrepreneur, David attributes his success to the “Mamba Mentality,” a term popularized by the late Kobe Bryant, which represents unwavering focus and determination to achieve greatness. He also believes that having a partner who shares the same vision and willingness to make sacrifices is crucial for success.

David’s inspiring journey unfolded as he transitioned from a teenage freelancer building websites and branding restaurants to establishing himself as a visionary entrepreneur, passionate activist, and astute investor, spearheading a remarkable $100 million restaurant brand.