Tag Archive for Chipotle

Mad For Garlic Expands Globally

In the news… Korea Times August 2013

Italian cuisine with Korean twist

Choo Son-yop, Sun at Food’s director in charge of overseas business, said the company will open Mad for Garlic restaurants in 10 countries by 2015 to generate half of its sales in overseas markets. The firm currently has four overseas branches, two in Singapore, one in Indonesia and one in the Philippines. / Courtesy of Sun at Food

‘Mad for Garlic’ offers customers special dining experience

By Park Si-soo

Pizza, pasta and risotto.

The three typical Italian meals are now everywhere in Korea. Perhaps this proves that they have a far-flung consumer base here, but at the same time they are no longer considered “special dishes.”

Mad for Garlic, a casual-dining Italian restaurant, is flexing its muscles to regain its glory with an increased dose of garlic. Non-garlic lovers don’t have to worry about the vegetable’s pungent smell since the company’s “special” way of roasting, frying or mashing removes the smell and deepens the mildness.

The unique recipe made its debut in 2001 through Mad for Garlic’s first restaurant in Apgujeong-dong, an affluent entertainment and residential district in southern Seoul.

There are currently 27 chain stores across the country. Despite the prolonged economic slowdown, the company showed moderate growth last year to post 80 billion won ($71.9 million) in sales and 15 billion won ($13.4 million) in operating profit.

The Seoul-based firm has four overseas branches ㅡ two in Singapore, one in Indonesia and one in the Philippines.  The combined sales of the four branches last year accounted for 10 percent of its entire sales. The company plans to enter seven more countries by 2015 in an ambitious project of generating half of its sales in overseas markets.

“We have found our competitive edge with garlic,” said Choo Son-yop, director of overseas business and franchise sales of Sun at Food that owns Mad for Garlic.

“There are many people who are reluctant to eat garlic because of its pungent smell. But we have solved the problem with our special way of cooking that completely removes the smell with no damage to garlic’s nutritional benefits.”

Garlic is scientifically proven to help prevent various diseases, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, among others. A recent study by Chinese scientists argued that eating uncooked garlic twice a week can halve the risk of lung cancer.

Choo said the firm gives Southeast Asia top priority when it comes to overseas expansion, adding it will open a chain store in Malaysia, Thailand and India by next year.

“India has a very unique dining culture, so the country’s dining industry still remains untapped by Korean restaurant companies,” he said. “Nonetheless it’s obvious that the market has huge growth potential. We cannot miss out on the opportunity.”

The director said the firm is in talks with an Indian company over its entry into the world’s second-most populous nation with some 1.2 billion people. Representatives of the Indian counterpart will soon visit Seoul for a general inspection of Mad for Garlic restaurants here, he said.

In July, the company announced another plan centered on its expansion into the United States. To spearhead its U.S. expansion, Mad for Garlic has partnered with Bridging Culture Worldwide, an American business consulting firm.

“Mad for Garlic is now ready to expand our base of operations to new markets outside Asia,” Sun at Food CEO Caroline C. Nam said in a statement. “We believe that North America is ready for Mad for Garlic ㅡ we offer about 50 menu items and every dish has something in common ㅡ they are all about garlic.”

Choo said Mad for Garlic’s globalization has just begun, adding his work is focusing on Southeast Asia, India and Japan. The firm has two other overseas business specialists ㅡ one is focusing on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, while the other is looking into the Middle East and the U.S. market.

He noted that the chain’s global success hinges on overseas business partners.

Specific franchise requirements may vary from country to country. Mad for Garlic does not grant franchise rights or explore joint venture agreements without a thorough check of the potential partners’ attitude and experience in the dining business and capital power, among others.

“The two sides should be on the same page when it comes to business goals and strategy,” he said. “Of course having high profitability is very important. But it’s not the sole goal of our business. We don’t allow anything that challenges the foremost value of our business ㅡ serving healthy food.”



Chipotle or Qdoba: Denver’s Battle of the Burritos 2012

By Don Southerton, CEO Bridging Culture Worldwide and Burrito Lover

In 1997, I moved from the East Coast to Denver, Colorado. A part-time college-age employee at our office would come to work in the late afternoon and before his evening shift often devour a huge rice, bean, and meat burrito wrapped in foil. Back East, I’d never seen what I learned was a “Mission style” burrito, but it was apparent the young man found the food tasty, and more important, filling. Intrigued, I eventually stopped in Chipotle, one of several trendy burrito Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) that were popping up around Denver. I recall the QSR’s unique décor, however it was the “build your own burrito” that I found most appealing.

Over the next 5 years, chicken burritos became a regular part of my diet. Interestingly, Denver was home to 2 rival QSR burrito brands Chipotle, which opened in 1993 near the University of Denver campus; and Qdoba, which was founded in 1995 at Grand and 6th Ave in Denver. Originally called Zuma and then Z-TECA, the name was changed to Qdoba to avoid confusion with other Mexican themed restaurants. As for a favorite, I do not recall having a preference. Most often location and appetite drove my decision on whether it was a Chipotle or Qdoba (Z-TECA)—both were clean, offered fast service and the food was satisfying.

Chipotle's first location Denver

First Chipotle Location—Denver, Colorado

After relocating to Southern California in 2003, Chipotle’s eventual expansion into the San Diego County area meant I could once again enjoy my Denver burritos—in what would become a weekly treat.

Last fall, upon returning to Denver, and now with a very strong brand loyalty to Chipotle, Qdoba did not have the same appeal. This was in part to my work involving top QSR concepts where Chipotle is seem as the undisputed industry leader–similar to Apple is with technology—and in part due to some poor reviews for Qdoba’s franchise operations in California.

Nevertheless, like years before location and appetite drove my decision to give Qdoba another try. Rather critical at first with Qdoba, I’ve only found some slight differences in taste, but overall they offer the same fast service and filling burrito—just like Chipotle.

Mission style burrito

Building a Mission-style Burrito.

So which is better? Surveying people in Denver on which is better– Chipotle or Qdoba– is like asking someone in California if they like Starbucks, Coffee Bean or Peet’s Coffee. They all command brand loyalty.

For the Denver area all Chipotle and most Qdoba are company owned stores. Both HQ’s are in Denver with competition strong and standards high. As for me after 6 months of Denver burrito “study,” it seems staffing is key and after months of neutrality, I’m leaning toward Qdoba. Partly because Qdoba teams see more engaged and eager to connect with the customer, and part because they seem less “corporate.” That said, location still most often drives my decision on whether it’s Chipotle or Qdoba, since both provide great value, quick service, and a healthy, tasty burrito.




Paciugo Gelato and Korea

Paciugo Gelato Korea copy

Double click on image

The best gelato–healthy, tasty, and fresh daily.


Smashburger is Right For Korea

By Don Southerton, BCW Global Editor,

I look at the Korean market and see lots of opportunity. That said, some global brands match well with Korean demand, others don’t. Smashburger will do well in Korea. This great video shares why. I also see Chipotle (another Denver-based brand) matching Korea’s demand for healthy and exciting foods.

Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) — Bloomberg’s Sheila Dharmarajan interviews Smashburger CEO Dave Prokupek and founder & Chief Concept Officer Tom Ryan, from their Denver headquarters and at the grill of one of the burger chain’s kitchens, about their rapid, global growth in the fast-casual dining space.


Chipotle Goes Asian with ShopHouse

By Don Southerton, Editor

Chipotle goes Asian…at least the new concept ShopHouse sports an Asian flair.

The new concept has the QSR industry’s attention along with investors of mother company Chipotle.

Time for Chipotle to turn it attention to Korea and Asia-Pacific, too. The Brand will do so well. In fact, I’m leading the charge to bring Chipotle to Korea, which has the logistics to eventually take the brand across Asia-Pacific.

Chipotle’s Asian spin-off ShopHouse seems to have opened – softly – in Washington, D.C.

The burrito chain has been tight-lipped about the project, but widely divergent reviews are starting to appear on Yelp about the restaurant, housed in a two-story building near Dupont Circle.

Some diners were given tickets for a free lunch in advance of ShopHouse’s opening, expected to be sometime this week. Several praised the freshness and spiciness of the ingredients, while one called the meal “leftovers in a bowl.”

ShopHouse will use a format similar to Chiptole’s: with customers moving down an assembly line customizing their meals. The look appears to be much the same, with industrial elements such as steel light fixtures and dark wood.

Reviews say that for about $8, patrons can get a bowl of rice or noodles with their choice of vegetable, garnish, protein, sauce and topping. The restaurant, customers said, also serves Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.

When announcing the restaurant concept in April, Chipotle said ShopHouse was inspired by cuisine in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, where many families live in the same buildings as the restaurants or markets that they operate.

ShopHouse will launch without any advertising and no plans yet for a second location, according to Fortune. Among the offerings: grilled steak with chili-jam marmalade, roast corn with scallions, pickled vegetables and green papaya salad.

Source: LA Times



Chipotle, Sustainability, and Korea

By Don Southerton, BCW Global Editor
I learned much about sustainability from the major Korean Groups that I support. They all have strong CSR and sustainable future initiatives. Moreover, Korean Confucian tradition finds people rooted to the land as stewards.

I see Chipotle as a brand that’s core values embrace sustainability. They are highly engaged in local sourcing when possible. Notwithstanding the spicy flavor of the burritos, which will appeal to Koreans, the brand aligns on many level with Korean well-being, Green, and as noted sustainability.

Chipotle would do well in Korea. Their leadership would be find the market not only lucrative, but boldly embracing Chipotle values… Good brand fit.

Check out this video.


Passion 5: SPC Group’s Flagship Patisserie

By Don Southerton, Editor
On my frequent trips to Korea, I tend to visit familiar places–some historic, some trendy. I just added Passion 5 to my list. I recommend you do, too.

Passion 5 is an ambitious project of the SPC group, a food specialty group which includes Paris Croissant, Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts. Italian architect Marco Lucchi designed the eye-catching building and some 36 chefs make delicious desserts.

Passion 5 is divided into four sections ― Cafe, Bakery, Patisserie and Chocolatier, with a trendy restaurant on the 2nd floor.

For more information, contact Dsoutherton@bridgingculture.com