Dexter Zimet

Coolstuff Team
May 24, 2024

Meet Dexter, the director of project management for Gracious Hospitality. Previously, Dexter was the president of absolute hotspot COQODAQ – the new Korean restaurant which is dedicated to fried chicken and champagne. We caught up with Dexter to dive into his long family history in the restaurant business and to see what’s next for COQODAQ.

Photos by Evan Sung

What led to your interest in the restaurant industry? 

My family. My parents founded a catering company in the West Village in 1986, and they still run it to this day. They’d return home from an event, too tired to cook, too wired to order something in. So we’d go out to restaurants. A lot. About 3-4 nights per week for as long as I can remember. Otherwise, they’d cook. And they’re damn good cooks. From an early age, I was surrounded by the industry, so when I received the opportunity to officially be part of it, there was a serendipitous feeling. 

⁠Tell us about what the process of bringing COQODAQ to life was like.

Terrifying, thrilling…but most of all, fulfilling. This was my first time being a part of this magnitude of a project. To build a restaurant while molding the concept, with so many interdependent variables…it almost felt like I was feeling around in the dark, discovering as I went about the process. However, to witness so many brilliant individuals, both from my team and our partners, invest creativity and grit to form this living breathing thing, it's the greatest gift I’ve been able to be a part of. 

⁠What’s your favorite part about the New York restaurant community? 

The comradery. Blind love and respect for each other.

Any big plans for the continued growth of COQODAQ?

We just opened up our patio to the world, so you can walk-in and enjoy our fried chicken and champagne outside. This is something we've been looking forward to since first seeing the space. We designed these incredible garage style doors that open up so you get this indoor/outdoor effect and I am so excited to see how it resonates with our guests. We have many other fun exciting things too that I can't wait to bring to life and I know our diners will be excited about!

⁠What's your favorite item on the menu?!

Cold perilla noodles. On the last day of our R&D trip to Seoul, we ventured outside of the city in search of the ultimate Chogye guksu. We were heading to our final stop, slightly underwhelmed by the previous ones, when the driver asked if he could bring us somewhere else, somewhere better. We obliged, ended up down a dirt road, and landed at a small restaurant. Behind was a small plot - covered with fresh perilla. Everything on the menu blew us away. The unanimous shining star was a version of what’s become our cold perilla noodles. Despite feeling overly stuffed from the day, we all ordered a second portion and vowed to recreate the dish for COQODAQ.

Follow along:

& @dexterlovelacezimet