After successfully running the Lim Dynasty Asia Cafe in Knoxville for many years, owner Phillip Lim branched out and brought his first Asia Cafe Express restaurant to Maryville.
Lim, 64, and local supporters recently gathered at the site, located on West Lamar Alexander Parkway, next to Dollar General and across from Petro’s Chili & Chips. Lim said it will be the first of 50 Asia Cafe Express restaurants he hopes to open in multiple states. Blount County will also have a second on the Springbrook Farm property in Alcoa, which is currently under development.
“I’m ready,” Lim said as he spoke by phone about his decision to go ahead with his expansion plans. He said many of his clients at the Lim Dynasty Asia Cafe in Knoxville have been from Blount County and have been asking him for years to open a restaurant here.
Now is the right time, said the business owner. He said the impetus he needed to deal with was the announcement that Amazon would build facilities in Blount County.
Lim has owned and operated Lim Dynasty Asia Cafe for approximately 16 years. The first 13 years were spent at a previous location on Central Avenue in Knoxville. He has been at the Callahan location for approximately three years.
Express locations won’t be like its flagship restaurant, which has over 200 menu items, he said. Asia Cafe Express restaurants will be smaller, with around 36 seats inside and on a patio, but there will also be drive-thru. Menus for new restaurants will focus on hibachi and sushi, Lim said, adding that he has yet to set a final menu.
“It’s the first of 50,” Lim said of Maryville’s location. He said it would be the model restaurant. A location in Bristol is also in the plans. Other neighboring states Lim is considering include North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Originally from Malaysia
Lim has lived in Knoxville since 1992. He previously owned restaurants in Malaysia and is the great-grandson of the founder of Malaysia’s independence. Independence from Great Britain took place on August 10, 1957.
“I have a lot of customers from Maryville who come to my restaurant on Callahan,” Lim said. “They’ve been pestering me for years to open one here. I was holding back but now that Amazon is coming, it’s time. I’ll bring jobs to this community.”
The entrepreneur was recently inducted into the Marquis Who’s Who. He has written a self-help book titled “Escape Towards Success”. It has donated 10,000 face masks to children’s hospitals, senior residences, police departments and other frontline workers.
He is currently developing the Lim Dynasty Asia Cafe Foundation to continue his charitable efforts.
His family sent him to the United States when he was young. His first job was as a diver and busser, but he quickly moved into the industry.
In addition to his restaurant, Lim has developed two beverage products – a liquid detox product and also an energy drink. This business owner has also said he would like to bring the Knotty Pine Children’s Theater to Blount County, with 3D and 5D children’s entertainment designed by a Disney animator.
He is currently focused on setting up and running the Asia Cafe Express restaurants.
“As KFC started in Kentucky, ACX will start in Maryville, Tennessee,” he said.