TaKorean Aims to Bounce Back After Unit Closures, Starts Franchising | Franchise News

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TaKorean is a line-style, Latin American and Korean fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Tacos don’t come to mind when thinking of Korean food, but for Washington, D.C., locals it may be a familiar mix.

TaKorean, a Latin American and Korean fusion restaurant, started franchising recently after 12 years. Brand CEO Mike Lenard decided to jump into franchising after some soul searching in 2020.

The line-style restaurant at one point was operating five locations at once, Lenard said, but now there are just two TaKorean locations open in Washington, D.C. He attributes the closings to a poor location—“There was also a lot of national brands that opened on that strip, and they’re all gone now,” he said—and a lease cut short.

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Mike Lenard founded TaKorean 12 years ago as a food truck.

TaKorean lost two of its then-four company-owned stores in 2020—one in Pennsyvlania and one in Washington, D.C. Its first closing was in 2018 in another Washington, D.C., spot that has proven difficult for restaurant owners.

“We’ve faced struggles with stores where we didn’t quite have the right real estate, and this is an area where we think we can provide a lot of perspective because we’ve been through ups and downs,” Lenard said. “We’ve also created an environment where the business can survive all these types of things.”

Lenard doesn’t want to grow the brand irresponsibly. “We obviously want to grow, we want to get big and we want to capitalize on momentum,” he said.

He anticipates franchisees being attracted to the brand’s simplicity.

“It’s simpler,” Lenard said. “While we have extremely fresh ingredients and fresh-tasting recipes,” there’s a lot less preparation involved than with similar concepts.

Customers start with three options: tacos, a bowl with slaw and rice or the slaw bowl, which doesn’t include rice. From there, guests pick toppings from three kinds of slaw, three types of meats, two types of vegetarian proteins, various add-ons and toppings. Lenard’s favorite is the chicken bowl.

TaKorean started as a food truck and expanded into a brick-and-mortar store in 2012. The build-your-own bowl craze grew popular in recent years, just in time for TaKorean to begin franchising.

The initial investment required to open a TaKorean restaurant is $337,000 to $781,500 for a full-size store, and $215,500 to $561,000 for a food court unit, including the $40,000 fee paid to the franchisor.

In 2019, the two TaKorean stores averaged $1.2 million apiece in sales. In 2020, sales plummeted due to pandemic restrictions to an average $653,006. In 2021, TaKorean nearly recovered to pre-pandemic numbers with an average of $1.1 million.

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