The story of Fulin’s founding is a familiar one often told in American history books — a hopeful immigrant, dreaming of a better way of life, leaves his homeland to come to America and then, starting at the bottom and learning as he goes, works hard to become successful.
In the late 1980s, a teacher from a small village in Fujian Province on the coast of the South China Sea, David Lin became disillusioned and disheartened after the Chinese government’s forceful crackdown on the student-led, pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests.
Seeking the freedoms and opportunities of America, Lin legally immigrated to the United States in 1993, settling in New York City. There, he found work in Chinese and Italian restaurants, washing dishes and helping in the kitchen while learning as much as he could about cooking, cuisine, serving customers and operating a restaurant.
In 1999, Lin moved from the hubbub of New York to the more family-friendly Nashville area, where he got a job as a server in a Chinese buffet. His family joined him in the U.S. in 2000. Afterwards, Lin managed a number of New Chinese Buffet and Grill stores across the Middle Tennessee area.
In 2003, Lin and several financial partners founded GL Restaurant Management Inc., to provide more purchasing leverage for the several buffet-style restaurants they owned and managed. In 2007, GL opened Toyama Steakhouse in Nashville (sold in 2009).
In November 2004, GL Restaurant Management opened the first Fulin’s Asian Cuisine in the Shoppes of Brentwood, Tennessee. The restaurant was immediately successful, and the second Fulin’s opened a year later in Mt. Juliet. In quick succession, the company opened additional Fulin’s Asian Cuisine restaurants in Hendersonville, Murfreesboro, Decatur (AL), Spring Hill, Cleveland (TN), Madison (AL), Knoxville and Franklin. Further expansion is in the planning process.