For almost 15 years, Dali Bar founder Colin Flahive has been a pioneer in the food space in Yunnan. His career in China dates to 2003 in the town of Dali in Yunnan. There he jointly opened Salvador’s Coffee House with partner Kris Ariel. At the time Dali was a well-known tourist destination, but the town’s Western food offerings were often uncreative and poorly executed. Salvador’s introduced to Dali for the first time gourmet foods such as homemade ice cream, bagels and authentic espresso drinks. This venture would pave the way for the many high quality gourmet Western cafes and restaurants that have since opened in Dali.
In 2004 Colin and Kris added moved Salvador’s to a new and improved location in Kunming, Yunnan’s capital city. This iteration of Salvador’s was soon known as one of Kunming’s most vigorous proponents of locally sourced and organic food. In addition to integrating a wide variety of local and organic ingredients into the menu, Colin also started Kunming’s first online natural foods market and organized a group purchase club providing weekly deliveries of organic vegetable from a nearby farm. Salvador’s is also known locally for providing wages and benefits that are well above local industry standards.
Building upon the success of their café and natural foods business, Colin then worked to create a non-profit initiative named Village Progress. This program funds and organizes health and education projects for children in many parts of Yunnan’s countryside and in underprivileged schools around Kunming. A portion of Salvador’s profits continues to go toward funding Village Progress.
Seeking a more scalable project in wish to invest his interest in healthy foods, Colin created Dali Bar in 2012.
Colin has written a book, Great Leaps: Finding Home in a Changing China, about his experiences here. It is available in English as a Kindle ebook or in English or Chinese in paperback in our online shops.
Dan has spent much of his career in China, with experience in entrepreneurial, corporate and non-profit roles.
He moved to Kunming in 2008, studying Chinese and working international communications for the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). After falling in love with the landscape, people and climate of Yunnan, he decided to stay long-term and became a partner in GoKunming.com, a prominent English-language news and information portal covering Yunnan and surrounding provinces. Dan and his partners steadily grew the website and eventually sold it to a group of investors. It continues to operate strongly today.
Wanting to gain more experience in a professional business environment, Dan moved in 2010 to Beijing to work as Global Marketing Manager for Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), a private business school focused on providing EMBA educations to successful Chinese entrepreneurs and executive education for high-level international businesspeople seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the China business environment. There, he supported the school’s international expansion, visual identity overhaul, global advertising campaigns, international events and international media relations.
In 2012, after a death in his immediate family, Dan resigned from his position in Beijing and embarked on a 4000km bicycle journey through Yunnan, Vietnam and Laos—with part of the goal of the trip being to spend time riding alone and reflecting on what he really wanted to do professionally and get out of life.
It was during this trip that Dan passed back through Kunming and ran into Colin, and learned about Colin’s idea to launch a natural energy brand for the Chinese market. For Dan, it sounded like a great business opportunity, as well the perfect opportunity to engage professionally in things he cared about healthy eating, outdoor sports and social welfare. He joined as a partner shortly after and now serves as managing director of Dali Bar.
Kris was born in California and spent most of his childhood in Hawaii with some years in Minnesota and Kansas. His diverse talents include DJing, art, photography, videography, music making, juggling and archery.
He has been living in China since 2001 and co-owns Salvador’s Coffee House and Salvador’s Loft with Colin. Kris supported Dali Bar during our initial launch and contributes to some of our marketing and social welfare project, but is mostly a silent partner who is more focused on the Salvador’s restaurant business.
Philo is originally from Henan province and joined Dali Bar as a part time employee in 2015. He’s one of the nicest guys you could meet and a very fast learner, so we asked him to join full time in 2016. Because we are a startup and a small team, Philo handles a wide range of duties at Dali Bar, and most of our customers and suppliers will end up working with him at some point or another.