Diego Zhang's Burger Cafe could soon be $10,000 richer

Diego Zhang's could be on its way to getting a lot more exposure if the restaurant, which has two locations in Centennial, is the winning recipient of a $10,000 award from the University of Colorado at Denver this week.

The internationally-flavored mini-burger joint was named one of six finalists last week by the university's Bard Center for Entrepreneurship in its annual business plan competition. The competition is for "early stage Colorado-based companies which have not yet received Angel or Venture Capital funding."

Diego Zhang's co-owner Dianna Williams says the judges were likely attracted to the restaurant's fast-casual and eco-friendly business model, its ambitions to grow nationally and internationally, and its strategy for getting its products in supermarkets. After all, it's a model that has brought other Colorado companies, such as Chipotle, great success, she points out.

If Diego Zhang's wins the $10,000 first prize, the owners will use it for marketing. "Ten thousand is more than we've ever spent for marketing," Williams says. "Everything has gone viral ... We literally have not spent any money on advertising."

The winner will be announced at the conclusion of a day-long event on Thursday where finalists will present "pitches" to a panel of judges.

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