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Follow The Leader Amelie

 “Follow The Leader: Expanding Your Business with Amelie Kang” Transcript

Kerry Diamond: Hi, Bombesquad. This is Kerry Diamond, host of Radio Cherry Bombe and editor-in-chief of Cherry Bombe Magazine. Welcome to our new mini series Follow the Leader. These days, everyone is hungry for more advice, especially about being an entrepreneur or finding smarter ways to run a business. For this series, we're talking to four women at different stages of their careers about how they handle key aspects of their business.

Kerry Diamond: Today's show is all about expansion. We talk about the when, where, why, and how of growing your business. I'm sitting down with Amelie Kang of the MáLà Project, a unique Chinese food concept in New York City with two locations. Amelie also has a second concept called Tomorrow. She's here to tell us how she did it. Let's thank Uber Eats for supporting this series. Now for my conversation with Amelie Kang. Amelie, how did you get into the food business?

Amelie Kang: I went to Culinary Institute of America for college, so-

Kerry Diamond: CIA.

Amelie Kang: The CIA. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: Fancy.

Amelie Kang: Yes. Came to the states right after high school, went to the CIA for my bachelor's degree, and I was in and never left the industry ever since.

Kerry Diamond: Where did you move here from?

Amelie Kang: Beijing.

Kerry Diamond: From Beijing. Yeah. Did you know you always wanted to be in food?

Amelie Kang: I didn't. I mean, I always loved food. I loved eating. Didn't know how to cook growing up because my grandma and everybody in my family were such great cooks. I just never had the opportunity to cook. My mom was terrible, so we always go out to my grandma's for dinner, so never learned how to cook until last year in high school where I took a baking class with this pastry chef from New Zealand. He's Chinese, but his work is nothing like what I've ever seen. It's just at another level coming from New Zealand. I started taking this very serious baking course with him, and that's when I realized I wanted to be in food.

Kerry Diamond: You came all the way here to do it.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Incredible. At what point did you decide, "I want to open a restaurant in the craziest place in the world to open a restaurant, New York City."

Amelie Kang: I actually didn't have a choice. I mean, I knew I wanted to open my own restaurant after graduating from the CIA. I actually had this... I was in this situation where my visa was getting expired, so I couldn't be on payroll anymore, but you could be a partner of your own company, so I thought, "Okay, I want to stay in New York. I like America. I will just do that. I guess I will just pay myself dividends once a year." That seemed to be the only choice I had.

Amelie Kang: I talked to my friends, talked to my parents. Some of my friends said, "Well, if you were to open a restaurant, we want to invest in you, and we want to do this together." I was like, "Great, so let's do it." That's how we got started. It was kind of forced and pushed into that direction. Didn't know it was going to happen so fast.

Kerry Diamond: What made you decide to open what you wound up opening?

Amelie Kang: I always knew I needed a dry pot restaurant in my life, coming from Beijing where I used to have dry pot every single week with my family, and just wasn't able to find it here. I mean, there are some dry pot restaurants in Flushing, but it's so far away. I was kind of surprised because knowing New York City is the food city, and I couldn't find this one thing that I used to have every week. I was surprised that not a lot of people knew about dry pot, so I knew that's what I wanted to do. From a business perspective, the operation is a lot simpler than a full-scale Sichuanese restaurant. Operational-wise, it was a lot.

Kerry Diamond: Well, I'll admit, before MáLà, I was one of those people who did not know what dry pot was. I love hot pot. I've been to some of the big hot pot restaurants in Hong Kong, had hot pot here. Can you explain the difference for people who just don't know the term dry pot at all?

Amelie Kang: Yeah. Dry pot is a communal pot, and pretty much you have a list of 70-plus ingredients in-

Kerry Diamond: 70. Seven-zero.

Amelie Kang: Yeah. It depends on the restaurant. Maybe some will have 50, some will have 80, but for us, I think we have 72 right now, including meats, or like beef, pork, chicken, duck, fish... all of that, the vegetables, soy product. You can just pick whatever you want, and the chef will stir fry it. We put a lot of spices and Chinese medicines into the dry pot mix, and it's brought out in this bamboo bowl.

Amelie Kang: It's completely customizable. You can also choose your own spicy level that you want. We serve a lot of single diners where you have a dry pot of five ingredients, or you can bring a whole group in where everyone shares a pot of like 20 ingredients. It's super fun and very easy, very quick, just, yeah, very fun to eat.

Kerry Diamond: Did you say spices and Chinese medicine?

Amelie Kang: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kerry Diamond: Tell us more about the Chinese medicine part of that.

Amelie Kang: We used medicines in our cooking a lot in Chinese cuisine, and for us specifically, we have things like female ginseng, regular ginseng, amomum, Gardenia, even orange peel has its medicinal benefits. We ground them up, and you can't use too much because they're so pungent and strong in their nature, but it does add a lot of flavor. We try to balance it out because if you eat too much spicy food, there's too much heat in the dish, and having a good variety of spices and medicines is going to balance that.

Kerry Diamond: Tell me what's in your ideal dry pot.

Amelie Kang: Dry pot? I love-

Kerry Diamond: What's the Amelie special?

Amelie Kang: I love Spam-

Kerry Diamond: Spam.

Amelie Kang: ... and I love frog.

Kerry Diamond: Spam and frog. Okay-

Amelie Kang: Spam and frog.

Kerry Diamond: ... Amelie, I never think to put those two things together but-

Amelie Kang: I know.

Kerry Diamond: ... I'm sure it's delicious.

Amelie Kang: And chicken heart, I love-

Kerry Diamond: Okay.

Amelie Kang: ...too.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. You are adventurous. How about the spice level or the Chinese medicine that you would put in there?

Amelie Kang: At our restaurant, I usually go for mild spicy, so that's the second spicy level right after not spicy at all. The next level will be regular spicy, and then super spicy, so I go for the mild spicy. But if I feel adventurous, then I'll go for spicy.

Kerry Diamond: So spam, frogs legs, and-

Amelie Kang: Chicken heart.

Kerry Diamond: ... chicken heart. Okay. I think you need to have the Amelie special. I think that could be a thing.

Amelie Kang: Yeah, it's really good.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, very cool. All right, so where was your first location?

Amelie Kang: It's 1st Avenue between St. Marks and 7th Street in East Village.

Kerry Diamond: How hard was it getting that first location open?

Amelie Kang: Very hard. It probably took the double amount of work and effort and time for as it took roughly around year where usually, I mean, for the restaurants that... for the size of our restaurant, it'll take anywhere from six months to eight months. For us, it took a year. From the... I guess the hardest part was finding the locations, signing the lease, and obviously the construction, getting a permit. The construction part was okay, but there was a lot of like waiting time for-

Kerry Diamond: So many permits, and then you don't even know if you have all the permits.

Amelie Kang: No.

Kerry Diamond: I mean, I remember when I had my first place, we got a stop work order, even though we must've had 20 different permits hanging in the window, and I still don't even understand what we got the stop work order for, so it's confusing.

Amelie Kang: Right. Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. Your other partners, did they have more restaurant experience than you did?

Amelie Kang: Two of them have been working in Chinese restaurants, but none of us had-

Kerry Diamond: Opened a place.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Got it. What is one thing you wish you had done differently during that process?

Amelie Kang: Wow, it's such a blur now, but-

Kerry Diamond: You don't want to go back there. Too traumatic.

Amelie Kang: Well, I mean, I just... like, as you're so in this process, you forget what's going on already. You forget what you did yesterday. But I guess the one thing was I was going between two spaces. The one that I wanted to sign was 600 square feet. It was very small, very, very cheap on Avenue B, and my partners were keen on this current location, which is five times the size. I wish I had that gut to just say, "Okay, let's go big." It took us some time we work this out where I was like, "Okay, let's do it," but they were, they were the people that always wanted to go back and I was the one that was kind of scared.

Kerry Diamond: That's a great example to bring up because it's just so... you just don't know in the beginning.

Amelie Kang: Yeah, I was very scared because I knew I was going to be the sole operator, and I didn't know if I could do it. That process of going back and forth took some time.

Kerry Diamond: There's so much to consider when you're picking your location and getting ready to sign a lease. What else went into that decision? I mean, I know some people, they'll only ever take over a corner location, you want to know what was in the business before you opened the business. What are some of the things that are important to you when choosing a location?

Amelie Kang: We always knew we wanted to be in East Village for the first location at least. The streets didn't really matter that much because I guess East Village, especially St. Marks area, is kind of a destination, so we weren't really concerned about like the foot traffic or anything like that, and we didn't know better either.

Amelie Kang: I went for like... There was a lot of feeling, and a lot of the times, you just have to follow your gut. For this location, when I saw it for the first time, I just knew. The space had brick floors, brick walls, very low ceiling, and it has this strange... like there's a divider that... the restaurant, it's divided in two parts by the staircase going up to the apartment, so to a lot of people that's a big no because you already lost like 200 square feet, but for me, I thought it was so interesting because you can go in from one side, and then all of a sudden you discover this whole other side of the restaurant, and it felt right for us.

Kerry Diamond: You saw the potential where other people might have run away.

Amelie Kang: Yeah. Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: You said something about trusting your gut. Is that an important thing for you?

Amelie Kang: Very much. I'm a big believer in instinct. When I saw this space, we just decided to go for it.

Kerry Diamond: Well, your instincts were good for the first one. You were-

Amelie Kang: For the first one.

Kerry Diamond: ... right on. What made you decide to open another location?

Amelie Kang: I think it was about one and half year in after the first location open, and we had a very solid team. Everyone was almost with us since the beginning, except for the people that we hired later on, and I just remember thinking, "What now?" because I didn't want these people to leave here, and I wanted to keep going back and give them more, but I realized how hard it's going to be if we just had this one single location because there are only so much you can do and so much you can learn from serving tables. It was more like from the team's benefit. I didn't really know, like I want all of these people to be managers, but I only have one position, and it seems like there is nowhere to go but to go up.

Kerry Diamond: Right. That's a big conundrum for entrepreneurs, especially if you start out and you only want one location. I think you realize very quickly the opportunities for your team are limited.

Amelie Kang: Very limited. Fortunately, we had all the people that still, that believed in us, and they already invested all that years in you. Obviously, they expect to go somewhere with this and can't just stay here, stay where we started.

Kerry Diamond: So you have your crew.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: You want to take care of them, so you start looking for another space.

Amelie Kang: Yeah. Talk to them, talk to my partners, talk to the team.

Kerry Diamond: Were you like, "I'm crazy to even be thinking about this," or were you like, "We're going to go for it."

Amelie Kang: I knew the team wanted it. I knew I personally wanted it and the partners were all for it, and so we talked about it, and it was just... I remember I give them this big presentation. I sat everybody down including the bussers and back servers, and I talked to them about like, "This is where we are, this is what I have in mind, so this is my proposal for you. Do you believe in this idea?" I just remember them getting more excited than I was. Then I thought, "Okay, that's what we're going to do."

Kerry Diamond: That's so touching. That's really nice to know that they all had your back. Where did you start? You have the plan. You shared it with your team. What was the next step?

Amelie Kang: The next step was we were looking for a location and looking for fun at the same time. I mean, it didn't take long. The second location was we're very lucky to be able to open within like almost a year at eight months. I was building the business plan as we were looking for a location because I knew we wanted to be in Midtown since we already, the first one was downtown.

Kerry Diamond: Why Midtown? You pick two very different locations for your businesses.

Amelie Kang: Our lunch sale wasn't that good at East Village. It's always this kind of, it's hip, and it's late-night. I wanted to... I was very curious to see how well we can do with the lunch crowd. Midtown felt like the logical place. We were also looking for maybe Flatiron and Fidi, again, like in Midtown, that space, so-

Kerry Diamond: So you're in the Bryant Park area.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: What were you so much smarter about the second time around?

Amelie Kang: Definitely looked at... made sure we didn't get a landmark building.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, is your building that you're in now landmarked?

Amelie Kang: Yeah, the first-

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's-

Amelie Kang: ... one was-

Kerry Diamond: ... so complicated.

Amelie Kang: ... the landmark. That's why we were waiting for so long. Yeah, definitely made sure of that. Definitely made sure getting the liquor license is going to be a fairly easy process. I mean, it's never easy, but easier than what we have now. Choosing the construction team, I was a lot smarter than what I was before.

Kerry Diamond: How so?

Amelie Kang: The first location, we... I had very little budget to work with for anything, so I was doing a lot of things myself, choosing the cheapest construction team and just thinking, "Ah, well, I'll be there, and I'll do work what them, so hopefully they'll charge me less," and-

Kerry Diamond: Were you essentially your own general contractor?

Amelie Kang: I wasn't just because-

Kerry Diamond: You weren't. Okay.

Amelie Kang: No, but I was definitely painting walls with them and moving bricks with them. Later on, I knew that the time and the money that you're saving is it just not worth it. The construction team for the second store was a lot more professional.

Kerry Diamond: Were you in there painting the walls and moving bricks again?

Amelie Kang: I did paint some walls, but I don't think I'll do it again because it did take me two stores to realize I'm not the... like I should leave it to the professionals.

Kerry Diamond: Let's thank Uber Eats for supporting Follow the Leader. Hey, Bombesquad. Savvy food entrepreneurs are as selective about their ingredients as they are about food delivery, which is one of many reasons why they partner with Uber Eats. In addition to the reliable delivery, Uber Eats is a delivery platform that allows users to discover new restaurants so a smaller business gets reach and awareness benefits. If you are ready to learn more and get started, visit For more information, that's Let's return to my conversation with Amelie Kang of the MáLà project.

Kerry Diamond: What else is in the works for MáLà project?

Amelie Kang: We are working on the third location. Hopefully, we can sign soon, and that'll be exciting, and that-

Kerry Diamond: In New York City?

Amelie Kang: In New York City, yeah, in Manhattan.

Kerry Diamond: What's the ultimate plan? Are you looking to create a brand that has multiple locations across this city and other cities, or do you think you'll do other concepts eventually?

Amelie Kang: I think right now I like to focus on MáLà Project until we are solid enough. I mean, right now we're still in baby steps, but I definitely think we need to keep growing in order to, I guess, stabilize because it's hard to see what your actual potential is if you don't keep going, I guess, but we're not expanding at a crazy rate at the same time, so baby steps but we definitely want to keep going.

Kerry Diamond: Do you see it expanding beyond New York?

Amelie Kang: I do. We actually been talking about this for quite a while and think there are some cities that we definitely want to explore. That said, after we open, maybe we open the third location, after everything is smooth and ready, we can explore other cities.

Kerry Diamond: What advice do you have for someone who has one location who would definitely like to open a second?

Amelie Kang: I think the location has to speak to your own brand and your team and the customer base. Where you are definitely defines a lot about you. I remember when thing that I was constantly thinking about right before we opened the second location was who can I put into the second location in Midtown because, for me, my personality is below 21st street, and so the-

Kerry Diamond: When I was your age, they used to say below 14th street.

Amelie Kang: Right, so-

Kerry Diamond: They've added seven blocks, I guess.

Amelie Kang: Yeah. Yeah. So going after that, you're like, "Okay, I'm going upstate almost." It's definitely a huge part of your identity, and got to think about the team's commute. A lot of times, restaurant workers especially, they bring friends in to work at the same place, and obviously, they live in the same neighborhood. Is that convenient for them, and do they connect with the people that are coming to dine-in at Midtown at the second location? That's, besides the foot traffic, that's a big thing to think about.

Kerry Diamond: You think a lot about your team. I can tell.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Do you have an office?

Amelie Kang: Don't.

Kerry Diamond: You don't.

Amelie Kang: No.

Kerry Diamond: Where do you do all your work?

Amelie Kang: I do it at the restaurants. I mean, it's funny how you asked that because for the longest time I had been playing around the idea of having an office, but I think I just am... like I imagine myself in an office, I feel like I wouldn't be in there that much because I have tables at the restaurants, and I could work there and I could see the restaurants, although eventually I think we would have one, but for now, because I'm going between restaurants and restaurants anyways-

Kerry Diamond: Yeah, that's what I wanted to know, how much time you spend in each restaurant?

Amelie Kang: It depends. I think maybe 20% at each location and... because I have three restaurants right now, so the rest of the time would be out with contractors or furniture shop and other things.

Kerry Diamond: Tell us about the third one again. Is that in Financial District?

Amelie Kang: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's called Tomorrow, and it's a quick-serve concept serving comfort Chinese food.

Kerry Diamond: Give us some examples of what comfort Chinese food is.

Amelie Kang: A lot of it is Northern Chinese cuisine-influenced, so there's tomato and the egg. That's really popular. I grew up eating it too. There's potato and beef stew, fried rice, and there's spicy noodle, like noodle soup, pig ear, fish and ginger, so very simple. Most of the dish contains two ingredients, so like a beef and potato, a tomato and an egg, so very simple home cooking food.

Kerry Diamond: Did you develop the menu in all three places?

Amelie Kang: Most of it. Our chef at MáLà Project definitely does a lot of work too.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, and is the menu the same at both MáLàs?

Amelie Kang: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kerry Diamond: It is. Okay. Does that make things simpler?

Amelie Kang: In a way, yes. It also makes things a little bit harder in the sense of keeping it consistent. It's funny because we realized that our clients at Midtown location actually eat a lot of food that's a lot spicier than our East Village location.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's so interesting.

Amelie Kang: Yeah. I still don't know what it is. I think, I mean, obviously the demographics and all of that, so having the same menu, people expect the same flavor, but we actually keep it a little bit different. Our food at Midtown is a little bit spicier than East village.

Kerry Diamond: Good tip. What's your bestseller Tomorrow?

Amelie Kang: At Tomorrow, tomato and egg for sure, and we have a pork bun that's very popular, and the fish with ginger and scallion.

Kerry Diamond: You have three locations but no office.

Amelie Kang: No office.

Kerry Diamond: So sort of New York City is your office?

Amelie Kang: Yep.

Kerry Diamond: I'm guessing you're on your phone all the time on-

Amelie Kang: All the time.

Kerry Diamond: ... the subway.

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah.

Amelie Kang: Which is good because if I can work on my phone, I can work anywhere. I can't sit anyways, so it doesn't... I guess having a desk doesn't really matter for me.

Kerry Diamond: Do you think you'll expand the Tomorrow concept?

Amelie Kang: I think so. We are always working on that. I think definitely one thing at the time because I learned my lessons from opening Tomorrow and the second MáLà Project at the same time, and I would never do it again. Now we're doing the third MáLà, and then after, maybe done.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. At what stage are you at with the third MáLà Project?

Amelie Kang: I have this space that I'm just so in love with, and I actually met the landlord. He refused to meet me for the longest time. I've been trying to arrange a meeting with him and finally met him last Friday, and I'm in love with him. I think we're pretty ready to sign. After that, maybe another eight months, so we'll see.

Kerry Diamond: Amelie, how have you funded all of this? That's three projects in a pretty quick amount of time.

Amelie Kang: Most of it is crowd funding.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, you've done Kickstarters?

Amelie Kang: No, I mean, how do you call that? Our first location, we pooled money, my partners and I, my mom. We pooled our own money. For the third location's the same. For the second one, we had friends, mostly, some customers that became friends, pooled money for us. I always work with the most, the tightest budget, so it's not hard for us to raise money because it's so cheap. So far, we've been going that route. I don't know how sustainable that way it's going to be.

Kerry Diamond: That's good. How do you know what fat to trim from a budget?

Amelie Kang: I think I learned a lot from doing the first location when I knew nothing, so everything just seemed so expensive to me at first where graphic design is going to cost you $30,000, and I thought, "There is no way. We're doing it for 500." Coming from that experience, you knew how much while their way there is in a lot of the process, and I knew a lot of things you can do yourself for like just 10% of the money.

Kerry Diamond: There are a lot of things I look back at when I think about my first restaurant and what we spent money on and back then how expensive it was to build a website. You had to pay someone over $10,000 to build a website, and today, we do all our stuff on Squarespace. I don't know. Do you use Squarespace? What do you use?

Amelie Kang: We don't. We actually have a web designer.

Kerry Diamond: You do?

Amelie Kang: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kerry Diamond: So you spent money on that?

Amelie Kang: We did spend the money.

Kerry Diamond: Okay. What are some other tools that you love? I was just... As you were saying that, I was like, "Oh, that's so interesting." I was thinking of some of the tools that I rely on at Cherry Bombe, and Canva is a great one. Have you ever used that?

Amelie Kang: No.

Kerry Diamond: It's sort of like a graphic design program. You can design all these different things. Probably not the best for designing a logo, but if you need to do a flyer or some kind of poster or anything, any kind of graphic. Squarespace, love. Have you ever used Squarespace-

Amelie Kang: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: ... to build a site? So easy. Mailchimp. Do you use-

Amelie Kang: For sure.

Kerry Diamond: ... Mailchimp-

Amelie Kang: Yes.

Kerry Diamond: ... for your emails?

Amelie Kang: All the time. Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Yeah. I always think what would we have done without Mailchimp?

Amelie Kang: I know, I know. Hard to imagine.

Kerry Diamond: Do you send a lot of emails to your customer?

Amelie Kang: Customers, maybe once every two months.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's not a lot.

Amelie Kang: No. No, not a lot.

Kerry Diamond: How do you communicate with your customers?

Amelie Kang: In-house a lot of it, and social media through Instagram mostly. We do get a good amount of returning customers, regulars, so if there's anything, we let them know in-house through in-house placement or just through the service staff.

Kerry Diamond: Who does your social media?

Amelie Kang: My best friend, one of my best friend, and she's also our PR agency. She does all of it.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, she has her own PR firm?

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Oh, that's cool. Want to give her a shout out?

Amelie Kang: Yeah, so the company's called Noon Creative, so N-O-O-N Creative.

Kerry Diamond: Very cool. Okay. What are some other tools that you can't live without?

Amelie Kang: I love my Blackberry. I don't care what other people say-

Kerry Diamond: I'm so jealous you have a Blackberry. Oh, my god. I'm going to go... I want a Blackberry again.

Amelie Kang: Yeah, do it.

Kerry Diamond: I feel like I'm so much less effective on my phone. I love my iPhone so much, but, oh, my God, I miss my Blackberry days. Can I just steal your Blackberry?

Amelie Kang: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: Amelie's not-

Amelie Kang: Do it.

Kerry Diamond: ... getting out of here without that.

Amelie Kang: I mean, I'm so obsessed with it that when people... Everyone keeps asking, "Oh, it's going to go bankrupt," and I said, "No way. I'm going to keep buying."

Kerry Diamond: I was able to work twice as fast on Blackberry.

Amelie Kang: Yeah, absolutely. That's another reason that I can work on my phone instead of... because, I don't know, for some reason, I am not very good with iPhones.

Kerry Diamond: You're going to take over the world. Look at you, that Blackberry. So jealous. All right. What other tools? Your Blackberry. What else can't you live without as an entrepreneur?

Amelie Kang: I think yoga mat, my gym membership. I don't think I can ever live without yoga because that's the only time where I can not think about anything, and I just feel like I can walk faster after yoga. It's very strange but... or any kind of exercise I think just because it is a very physical demanding job, and it's actually, exercise definitely energize you instead of wearing you down in my opinion. My watch, I guess, and-

Kerry Diamond: Your watch. You're so old school.

Amelie Kang: I know.

Kerry Diamond: For someone as young as you are, you've got your Blackberry and your watch.

Amelie Kang: I wish I had a car.

Kerry Diamond: In Manhattan?

Amelie Kang: Yeah. I guess, it's very hard to have a car in Manhattan, but I definitely... I find myself more productive when I'm driving compared to being on the subway.

Kerry Diamond: Why is that?

Amelie Kang: In your car, you can practice the things that you want to say and you can listen to the things that... Your have personal space, so that 30 minutes drive to work and then another 30 minutes back home, that's personal time that you can't get on the subway.

Kerry Diamond: But your life would be a nightmare of traffic and parking tickets.

Amelie Kang: For sure.

Kerry Diamond: Okay, so let's say someone is listening to this, They're like, "Next time I'm in New York, I want to go support Amelie at one of her places," which is the first one they should visit, and what should they order?

Amelie Kang: Definitely go the East Village location. That's our original location-

Kerry Diamond: Of MáLà.

Amelie Kang: ... of MáLà Project, and order a dry pot for sure. Get sliced beef, get chicken thigh, if you want to be a little bit weird, get frogs. There's chicken hearts, all of that, and a lot of vegetables. Put a lot of vegetables in your pot. We also have our very famous Chinese fried chicken. Our Dan Dan noodle is great, so definitely get that. If you are in Wall Street area, check out Tomorrow.

Kerry Diamond: Very cool. As part of the series, we had a woman named Umber Ahmad come on the show, and she has a bakery called Mah-Ze-Dahr. She talked about when you put together your business plan that you should always know what your exit strategy is or your ultimate goal. With all these businesses, what is your ultimate goal?

Amelie Kang: It's just so funny because we never thought about our exit strategy nor our ultimate goal, I guess, in this regard, but the furtherest plan we have is in five years, and in five years, I hope we can expand to other cities, and I hope... Nothing would make me happier if our New York staff is able to station or even move out to California and build a life there, that'd be so amazing, and just have an impact in this industry because I think we tried to do a lot of the things at MáLà Project that's different from the traditional industry standard. I have such a strong belief in that, and I think hopefully we can make some sort of an impact to the people that are listening.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for this episode of Follow the Leader. Thank you to Amelie Kang of the MáLà Project and Tomorrow for sharing her story with us, and thank you to Uber Eats for supporting this Radio Cherry Bombe mini series. Follow the Leader was produced and edited by Jess Zeidman of Cherry Bombe and recorded at CDM Sound Studios and Argot Studios in New York City. Thanks for listening, everybody. You're the Bombe.