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Thursday, Jul 18, 2024

Din Tai Fung Opens at Downtown Disney 

After a soft opening in the last week of June, Din Tai Fung is open to the public at its newest location in the Downtown Disney District.

The 14,000-square-foot space is the Chinese restaurant chain’s first stand-alone location apart from its historical mall attachments, such as the one at South Coast Plaza that opened in 2014. It can seat up to 300 people, larger than its Costa Mesa counterpart, and is located right next to the newly built entrance gate at the Disney shopping center.

Din Tai Fung Restaurant Group, a family-owned business in its third generation and originally founded in Taiwan, is best known for its handcrafted soup dumplings or xiao long bao. Knowing it would be the first major Asian cuisine concept to open at Downtown Disney, the chain’s menu remains the same to better introduce visitors to its core offerings with food innovation planned for later down the line.

“Our goal is to spread culture, and Downtown Disney is the perfect place to do that,” Vice President of Brand Marketing and Communications Jess Chao told the Business Journal.

The team expanded the bar menu instead, aiming to draw in the park crowds.

“We have to produce quality to stay and grow here,” Chao said on a tour of the new location. Reservations are currently booked through July.

The restaurant chain entered the U.S. in 2000 and currently counts 15 locations with a store pipeline spanning the next four years, which includes another spot in Brea to
open at a later time. Worldwide, it has over 170 restaurants.

The company said the founding Yang family was interested in opening a spot at the Disney property, aware of the planned expansion and knowing that a partnership with Disney would be long-term. Chao cited a desire to help in the revitalization of the area.

“As part of the expansion project, we were able to design our restaurant building from the ground up, which allowed us the opportunity to showcase our heritage from the moment visitors see our building,” Albert Yang, executive vice president of the North American division, said.

For any future freestanding restaurants, Chao said the family would need to find a similar partner to open with. Din Tai Fung is also entering the retail segment with its first line of merchandise to mark the opening of the new Anaheim location.

OC Investments

Din Tai Fung not only plans to introduce more people to the restaurant chain from its Anaheim outpost; it aims to consistently contribute to the OC community as well.

The company will sponsor the 2024 CHOC Walk in the Park put on by the Disneyland Resort with a $50,000 donation to go toward the event. Restaurant employees and leadership will also participate in the charity walk.

The family plans to start donating to more local nonprofit organizations via its OC locations every year.

Another priority of the newly opened location is the restaurant’s employees. Currently, the Downtown Disney stop employs 300 people and has room for more, Chao said. At least 19 additional positions are available from serving to kitchen to management.

There is extensive training for every employee, especially the chefs making the dumplings, which take six to 12 months to perfect, according to the team. On average, each restaurant makes about 10,000 soup dumplings per day, Chao said.

Din Tai Fung is happy to create more jobs, Chao added, and wants to build long-term employees.

Downtown Renovations

Disney’s shopping district is gaining several new elevated restaurant concepts in line with the resort’s aim to reconstruct the area and attract more upscale crowds.

Din Tai Fung arrives only a couple months behind Downtown Disney’s three new Mexican restaurants that opened in May –– Paseo, Céntrico and Tiendita –– led by Michelin-starred Chef Carlos Gaytán.

There are more to come, including Porto’s Bakery, a food hall called Parkside Market, an unnamed barbecue spot and a steakhouse concept.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.

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