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Condado Tacos in Columbus, Ohio

Joe Kahn Headshot
Episode #: 209
Condado Tacos in Columbus, Ohio

Guest: Joe Kahn
Topics: Condado Tacos, fast-casual restaurants


Chris Ressa 0:00
This is Retail Retold, the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa, and I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC Management.

Welcome to Retail Retold everyone. Today I’m joined by Joe Kahn, the founder and CEO of Condado Tacos. Welcome to the show.

Joe Kahn 0:30
Christopher. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Ressa 0:33
So, Joe, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit more about who you are and what you do?

Kahn 0:40
Yeah, happy to. So my name is Joe Khan, the Founder and Chief Innovative Officer of Condado Tacos. Condado Tacos is a basket casual, we call it next gen experiential taco joints. We started eight years ago. We have 39 locations as of last year. We’re working on 12 this year, so we’ll have a total of 5.1 We’re just as high energetic. Taco, marg, queso-loving place that people just can’t get enough of.

Ressa 1:25
Fantastic. So God, bring me back in time Joe. What was Joe doing pre-Condado Tacos.

Kahn 1:35
Sure, yeah. So I just turned 50 Last year, I think I’m turning 51. Geez, I can’t believe that. But you know, when I was 16 I got my first job. It was at a place called Sizzler Steakhouse. If you remember though, I don’t know if they’re around anymore. I was a busboy, I believe, and, you know, had a part time job and I made my first $8 that day.

And I became a restaurant lifer. I couldn’t get enough of the cash. So for the last 35 years, I’ve really just been in every aspect of the restaurant business. Server, bartender, management, general manager, I did some consulting, back of the house, dishwasher, everything you could think of I did in the restaurant industry. And when I was 38, I had the chance to start my own restaurant.

Ressa 2:38
Yeah. So let’s talk about the restaurant space today. So I’ve had a couple of restaurant tours on lately. And so I try not to talk about this topic, but it seems like it’s probably a good lesson for everybody. So you opened restaurants in this COVID time period, where we shut downs. So what was the strategy during COVID? How did you approach it? What did you do?

Kahn 3:19
Well, you know, at that time, we had 25 restaurants when he says, I don’t even know what it was, it was just frightening. I mean, I was at a conference with a bunch of restaurant guys yesterday, and all we talked about was this subject. But honestly, you know, the shutdown came, we made the decision to shut down just like, you know, right after that first NBA game, shut down, the world shut down. We decided to close.

And then first thing we did was, you know, started strategizing. I mean, we all got together, the whole C suite. You know, on a call, we all figured out what zoom was all of a sudden, because we didn’t know what it was before. And, you know, got on the phone. I was the, I had a president at the time, I was still the CEO of the company. So I was still leading the company, my president was on the way out because we had just done a private equity deal.

And that was kind of the deal. So we were on the hunt for new presidents tp kind of take us to the next level, but I just kind of took over the reins. And me and my co-worker, Johnny Zilla, who is a day one employee, started as a bartender next to me bartending in my restaurant, and has taken this company to a whole new level with me. We just started strategizing and talking and seeing what’s going out there. So, you know, we shut down for about two weeks.

And then, you know, we had to make the decision of, you know, we didn’t know that. You know, there was what was going to happen, so we had to let everybody go, except for the C suite. And, you know, with the promise that when the world opens up, everybody comes back, gets the back pay all that kind of stuff. So, you know, what became evident was this while we were strategizing, and we were all just flailing because we didn’t know what the hell was going on.

We didn’t know about PPP, we didn’t know about this, we didn’t know about that. We didn’t know if we had enough cash to go, you know, and pay salaries. So it really came down to we, as a company, the C suite made a decision to reopen about six weeks into it, because what I found was, I was trying to get groceries.

I was a guy that was so paranoid that couldn’t go out even with a mask got and I was like, 90% of the people, I think, in the beginning, because there was so much misinformation out there. That just said, you know, I saw that I couldn’t get groceries for two weeks delivered, I go, we have to open. If there’s people out there brave enough to go and open those doors. We have to so we got a hold of all our managers, first of all, and all the managers said Yes, I’m coming back.

I said, Well, we’re going to do to go. And you know, what’s so funny? Christopher, we got so much held for that. I’m like, the people can’t eat, like, how are they going to eat, we have to open if grocery stores can feed you, restaurants have to. So you know, I think we made a sound decision, I thought that we were a great, you know, partner to our communities, and it needed to be done. So we opened.

And you know what, it was exactly like, I thought there was so much demand, we couldn’t even keep up with it. So we literally, and this is funny, but we were, I mean, our four, five managers in the restaurant, we’re doing probably just as much in sales as when the world didn’t shut down.

So we did everything, like being in pickup, or people that were brave enough, you know, came out to we did our own delivery, and that, you know, third party, of course, but it was just a grind and these brave guys, that that opens these doors we were so grateful to so it was pretty evident about six or seven weeks into it that we were going to be okay.

So we dipped into our bank accounts, we did all the back pay for all the managers, all the, you know, hourly employees were invited back if they wanted to come back, and they wanted to do that to go and all that kind of stuff. And we did their back pay, and then we you know, bonus to everybody and made everybody whole and above all, and you know, the strategy was just feed people.

And then you know what happened during the up and down, shutdown, open shutdown back and forth. But honestly, the six weeks were terrifying. But we made it through. And we were brave enough to do that. And we had some really brave people that that that are still Hopefully, most of them are still with the company that did a great job.

Ressa 8:11
Excellent. Well, that’s good story is I’m curious, pre pandemic, what what was kind of like an average unit volume for you?

Kahn 8:23
Yeah, well, here’s the interesting part. So right when we did our private equity deal, two weeks after COVID happened was the largest steel they’ve ever done. Oh, my COVID past. You’re gonna love this story, dude. It’s hilarious. So we were doing about three, six. Wow. 3.6. Wow, that’s really? Yeah, now we’re at 4.1. So the pandemic actually helped us out because we had zero off premise business at all. We didn’t even believe in off premise.

Because we were so busy in the restaurants that were like, oh, let’s just keep up with this volume. Want to make sure that we can do this. But you know, the pandemic actually taught us how to do to go and packaging. And it’s funny, because now if you go and look at like our scores, you know how they do like stars by that.

We’re actually one of the highest out of all the platforms where we sit at like a 4.8 for off premise. So it’s incredible. What happens we we went up about seven, we gained about 7% or so. Yeah, that’s amazing.

Ressa 9:35
Wow. Food Truck. So obviously the food travels pretty good.

Kahn 9:38
Yeah, it does. Yep. Yep. Travel Well,

Ressa 9:42
Then we’ll get into the private equity. That’s interesting. The on the on the private equity deal. So, you know, I think one of the topics everybody’s talking about today that I’m curious about You mentioned how you took care of your staff. And I think that was really interesting. story you told there about the back pay.

You said, I think you might have said like, of course, I hadn’t heard people actually giving back pay to the time off. So that was really interesting that you all did that. Yep. How staffing today, you know, you read headline news. How’s it going? How’s the people part of the business going right now?

Kahn 10:30
Sure. Well, Christopher, I’m not gonna brag, I’m not gonna say that, you know, we didn’t have our challenges. But the reason that we did the back pay and dug into, you know, the owners pockets and the new owners pockets was because we have a different culture. And that’s what makes us successful. We’ve been open for eight years. At the end of this year, we’re going to be 180 million plus company. And to build something like that you have to have great culture.

And the culture starts with the people. And this is what I talked about on every podcast. Every deal that I do, everybody that I can preach from the mountaintops, the people, this is about the people. It’s not about just the tacos. Yeah, we have craveable food, yes, fantastic. But it’s really about the people. So people always come first to my organization.

And I had to do that I gave up my salary, because we only brought back so many people in the in the Support Center, which is our office, I gave up my salary for a long time. So I could bring back I think it was like 10 people, or so. You know, because the C suite sports and we didn’t need them, because obviously, you know, until we got the restaurants up and going, it didn’t matter. So. But it’s all about the people.

And I just felt like it was necessary. And I don’t think I’m alone. I’m sure there’s other people out there. But that’s just our Mo. That’s how we treat our people. You know, I have 10 original members that were all busboys, bartenders, servers that are now in the C suites with me, and they are the ones that have built this company with me. So that’s, that’s amazing. Yeah.

Ressa 12:18
And, and hiring today, hiring today is not as bad.

Kahn 12:21
Yes, we had our challenges, especially with the great resignation out there. But what we found was pandemic did a number on people, it really did people quit, even managers quit, they went to go work for something that was less stressful. And then they came back three months later, because they were like, it’s same anywhere. But the hiring, hiring can be challenging once we get them in the door, we’re fine.

But we don’t have a lot of turnover. And we hire from within a rate of hiring from within is about 66%, which is huge. And we’re very, we’re very successful with that. Because we don’t just treat our employees like a number, we value our employees and we value our employees lives. I’ll give you a couple of instances. The reason I started this company was because I felt like I was treated like a number in this in this restaurant field.

So I made this company, this world that I could live in where I felt like I was a valued member of society, to the people I worked for. Right, and I got paid well, I didn’t have to have a college degree, which I don’t, doesn’t matter of fact, I’m a multimillionaire, and I’m very successful without a college degree. So and most people in the restaurant business, they don’t all have degrees. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s thought of is that way, but it’s not true.

That’s not how you should value a person’s intelligence or, you know, work ethic off of that. So, you know, I paid people eight years ago, 20 bucks plus an hour in the kitchen. I still do. So we value our people.

And once you get to know that people just flock to us so we don’t have the challenges as much as other people do with hiring because we’re starting to get a great name for herself just like in and out does I think In and Out Burger values their employees and pays them about the same that we pay them which is about the 90th percentile in the restaurant industry, which is way above what anyone else does.

Ressa 14:35
Wow. Yeah. Okay. So I want you to thank you for that piece on the market and in some of the stuff during COVID Take me back to how this you ideated the idea this restaurant, and you know, and getting into your first location.

Kahn 14:54
Yeah, sure. So okay, let’s see. Well, I, I always have to incorporate i, this really this journey started 10 years ago, Christopher, I had another company that I won’t mention the name happened two years before this. And my, my wife’s friend, at the time, had a restaurant space that went defunct. So he had a liquor license, and a space. And she put me together with him, because he knew I always wanted to open my own place. And, and he goes, Okay, I think that’s great.

There’s none of that in the neighborhood. He goes, Well, why don’t you think about what you want. And so I went home, half a bottle of whiskey later, me and my wife, she was typing it all out. And I just sat down and went, This is what I want. This is my perfect restaurant that I want to build for myself. And it’s funny, because I look at that little two page business plan. That’s just ideas, you know, art on the wall, this that tacos, it is still 90% true to what Kannada is now.

So anyways, me and the partner, you know, got together, my wife left me $10,000 out of her 401k, I had $2,000. Because he already owned the business. So I mean, we did it, we did it on a shoestring budget, I think he put, you know, a little bit more in and, you know, open the thing for, I don’t even know, $40,000 It was nothing, nothing at all. But, you know, it was great in the beginning, and then it wasn’t great. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

But, you know, I appreciate the guy, I appreciate the opportunity for the building. And it didn’t work out. So we, you know, walked away, he has his own business. And I restarted a year later, I found two great partners that we each put $100,000 in and started, which is still very cheap, restarted under the name Condado tacos, my same concept that I built from before, just a little better, I just added a few tweaks. And we opened in the short north of Columbus a year later.

And the funny thing is Christopher, you know, real estate, so I found this building, I had to buy outs you know, the assets, which were worthless liquor license and everything else. And then I was so cheap back in the day, I did all the work myself with like one other guy, and, and then hired a couple of artists and put all this great artwork on the walls and set up the kitchen, which is really kind of easy back then. Because it was very little equipment and all that kind of stuff.

Did all the work myself. And, you know, I opened the thing for probably at $3,000 total and stuck the rest of the money in the bank, because I was frightened that I was gonna go under any minute even though I had success with the other one. And, you know, opened up and sold a dream to the employees. I said, Listen, this did very well for me, and where I moved from Cleveland.

And you know, if you just give it some time, and you believe in this, we’re gonna build, we’re gonna build an empire, we’re gonna build a legacy for all of us. We’re gonna build this amazing craveable place, and we’re gonna have lines out the door. Well, it happened that way. But it took about six months. They were they were like, Joe, are you sure? Actually it took a little more than six months, it took about 11 months. And at the 11 month mark, we started having a little success.

I think we got in, we were at like 25,000 a week. I remember a big celebration was 28,000. We broke the $28,000 mark a week. And then all of a sudden, we hit 35. And I’m like, wow, this is credible. 35 a week. Well, then, we started getting busy. And I would bartend with this guy named Johnny Zilla who’s my co chief operating officer. And he, he would tell me about his experiences in the restaurant business. He was taking a break, just bartending.

He had owned a restaurant in Chicago, he had done multi unit stuff with Red Robin, blah, blah, blah, all over the place. And I go, You know what, you’re so much better than me. I go, I’ve sold you the dream, I will work my ass off. But I want you to be in charge of this. So my promise to you is I’m going to make you a millionaire. If you stick with this, and I’m going to make your partner and we’re going to build an empire, and he took the challenge. He was in charge for about three months.

And he turned to me in February and he goes, Joe, I’m telling you by May. I’m gonna put this thing at 100,000 a week plus, I said And you’re joking, he goes, nope. And literally, Cinco de Mayo our first week that we had, we had 100. And like $4,000 that week, and then we were just off to the races.

And after that there was labs around the building for a whole year until I had the courage to like, well, not courage, I’m sorry, that’s the wrong word, until I found another space because I knew we were going to do another space. So the strategy with my two other partners who were great partners, they were really just the money, little bit of strategy on real estate, and putting my C suite together and all that kind of stuff.

But weren’t restaurant tours was, we weren’t going to touch a penny, because we knew we had lightning in a bottle. You know, they knew it from the last place. And they knew it from you know, what happened about 14 months into the business. So we were very strategic and didn’t touch a dime, I paid my CFO, you know, double what I was being paid.

So he could feel good about what he was doing, and bonus term and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, we got to the point where we were so popular that we moved three quarters of a mile up the street, open that by year two, and had the same exact success. Just lines out the door. Couldn’t get enough. Yeah.

Ressa 21:35
So it’s interesting, because one of the things I find interesting is, you know, you’re at your did you say 39 locations today?

Kahn 21:46
Yeah. 39.

Ressa 21:47
So 39 locations that that first one kind of moved around a bit. And right, like where you found it was you started the business in Cleveland, you got proof of concept. You go to Columbus, you open up a location. That’s so busy. You moved it down the road.

Yep. So what bring me back to you left yet the you left the guy in Cleveland, you guys separated, you went your separate ways. And the location that you found in Columbus, was it like, a freestanding building was it was a part of a shopping center. What was it?

Kahn 22:23
So it’s funny, if you know, Columbus, which you probably do, you’ve probably heard some stuff is right on the outskirts of an area called Short North, is connect. It’s like that middle part that connects campus and Short North, which is kind of a hip area for people. So we were I couldn’t afford much. So it was a free standing building that had two concepts in it. I think at the time, there was nothing on the left’s on the right, I took over an old gay bar.

But it was just on that fringe where it’s like, semi part of the Short North semi not. It was a great building, I saw it and I’m like, Oh, this is it. But people were saying no, I think it’s just a little too far off. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, it has to move this way. Eventually, I go, this is connecting OSU campus.

To Short North I go, it’s, it’s gonna happen eventually. I just got lucky enough. And I think I had the vision to see and go, the business that’s in there right now is failing because of their concepts. And their dedication, it has nothing to do with the building or the area. It’s not the location. It’s not the location. So I thought I thought it was, you know, great location. And that’s where we went into,

Ressa 23:42
and how was dealing with that landlord, telling them you’re going to take this gay bar and turn it into, you know, a Mexican restaurant?

Kahn 23:53
Well, to be quite honest, he was very happy. He was he was very happy, because, you know, it wasn’t that it was a gay bar. You know, there’s very successful gay bars, three, three blocks up. It was that this guy that was in the building just wasn’t a good operator. I mean, you walked in the building, and he looked at the ceiling, and there were holes in the ceiling. So why can’t you take care of it? So the guy had no funds to do anything.

The place was just a mess. So I think the landlord was very happy. Of course, he was, you know, hesitant, and we had to sign a guarantee. But my partners were happy to do that, because they believed in me and they believed in the concept. But no, I think the landlord was very happy. And you know what the landlord’s good guy. And I think it’s probably one of his best best moves he ever did was put us in there, because I think I’m doing maybe $2,000 a week and we’ve made that area so

Ressa 24:54
and then you moved it still in Columbus, three quarters miles down the road. What type of building was Yeah.

Kahn 25:00
Well, Christopher, I didn’t move it. I added a second one.

Ressa 25:03
Oh, that was your second location. Are you still in that first location? Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. So yeah, so that guy did he did make out that was 10 years later, eight years later.

Kahn 25:17
Yeah, exactly, exactly. But the new building was, you know, pletely different. It was literally, in the heart of the short north. And, you know, a little close for my comfort. I thought back then. But it turned out it was a totally different demographic. We were getting it from all sides. So that building was actually in the back there was.

It was freestanding, of course. I shouldn’t say freestanding. It was some retail in the front in the back was a big park. And then there was tenants up top. So it was a big building. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. No, no, no, we were kind of the anchor. They were just we were one of the first if not the first there. So we took you know, the right, the right corner, I guess. Left left corner.

Ressa 26:12
Got it. So on the first one, when you when you when you saw the location? Did, were you dealing? Did you have to deal with the owner of the gay bar and like you mentioned by his assets, so you had to make a deal with that guy clearly.

Kahn 26:29
Yeah, I mean, listen, he didn’t want to let the assets go for nothing, even though they were worthless. You know, there’s a stage, DJ equipment or whatever else. I tried to sell all of it. I got like, $12 for it. I don’t even know it was probably worth $100,000. But yeah, I had to buy the liquor license. And then I had to buy his assets. He was okay to deal with. I mean, he was ready to go. He was losing probably losing money.

Ressa 26:54
Was he open at the time? Or close? When you just like, did you just walk in and say, Listen, man, I can see the writing on the wall. Let me buy you out.

Kahn 27:04
I looked at the space by the outside. And I could see in a little bit and I go this guy is not doing well. I literally I think knocked on the door. And he answered his name was read, I think read. So I don’t know why just read but they call them read. And I go are you guys open? He’s like, we’re only open for about another month or so we’re not sure what we’re doing.

And I said, Well, can we talk and he’s like, Oh, I just hired a broker. And so he gave me the brokers number and I went through the broker. The broker was a piece of work to deal with. As as they are the rinky dink brokers like that, but I shouldn’t say that he’s a nice guy. Nice guy, but he was you know, it was our first time getting to know each other. But no, I mean, listen, it was all fine. It was a quick process. It was like, Okay, two weeks, barely any negotiation and

Ressa 28:07
got it. So you make a deal with him. And then you call the landlord and say, I’m gonna save. I’m gonna save you.

Kahn 28:13
No, no, no, no. We had to get sign off from the landlord. Yeah, the assignment. Yeah. So I mean, we had to go through that the landlord came and sat down with me. I invited my partners down, they were the money, you know, not just the money. I call him the money, but they were much more. They were a third of the money, I guess.

But they were, they had their own money. I had nothing to guarantee. So they had to be there. And they helped me negotiate the lease with the landlord. And I think he gave us a one year guarantee. One year rolling, something like that. It was really an easy, easy ways to negotiate. But I think he was happy to have those guys out.

Ressa 28:57
Amazing. Well, cool story. I love that. I bet a lot of people don’t know that. The first condado was actually once a gay bar. So that’s pretty cool story.

Kahn 29:09
Well, it was not just it was a it was a gay bar. And a exotic dancers. Oh, yeah. It was pretty cool.

Ressa 29:24
Very cool. So let’s fast forward, I guess, five or six years. Yeah. And now enter. You’re making a deal with private equity. Yeah. How’d that how’d that all go down? What were you thinking? Because I think this is an interesting point, because as restaurant tours go, there’s a couple of different avenues that you see them go right, especially at that point of like you said, 12. So I guess at that point, you’re in mid 20s locations, low 20s.

You’re doing good volume, they see the growth, and people either start to do one or two things. They either start franchising, right? Or they start looking to sell and potentially to private equity. Private Equity loves restaurant business because cash flow cash flow heavy, consistent cash flow.

Yep. So what was going on in your head as you were thinking about like scaling, and that’s why people typically do one or the other. They want to scale this and explode it. Rob says, do one store every, you know, six months type of thing.

Kahn 30:25
Yeah. Well, you know, that’s interesting. What’s interesting about it was, we were at about 13 stores. We just generated so much cash flow. And I mean, our payback was less than a year on these he was incredible. But, you know, never thought about franchising.

In fact, I think franchising is the kiss of death, especially if you don’t have your infrastructure in place, and I was setting my infrastructure up by the second store, meaning my support center, all the money, went to my CFO, I hired a CFO, I hired an HR director, I hired all these people that I needed front loaded before I got in there. But private equity was the way to go. And it wasn’t just about the money.

It was more about the experience, from private equity on how to grow and how to scale. You know what I mean? So yes, the money was nice, but I didn’t sell very much of my stake. My other partners cashed out almost completely. But no private equity was way to go. You know, that process. We my CFO was with the place called City Barbecue, and he had just done a transaction here with them.

Yeah. And so he’s really the one that taught me what the hell private equity was, and how to build this thing and where we were gonna go with our dreams. And so he had a broker named Ashish from BMO, at the time, Bank of Montreal, and he gave him a call and said, Hey, I’m working for this new concept. It’s really special. Lunch, come take a look at us came and take a look at us. And, you know, we sat down, my partners were hesitant.

And I was like, well, I think it’s time to get the word out. So me and one of my partners went to New York with Ashish. We did just a little coming out teaser party, you know, kind of thing and we met with model roadshow. Yeah, we met with like, I don’t know. 20 private equity. Guys just gave them little teasers. 30 minute teasers. I’ll tell you the funny story. Christopher, the first person that entered the room. His name is Christopher Artinian was with Beekman.

Dickman, private equity out of New York. I fell in love with this guy. He was from Morton’s, he was the UFC II Oh. And he believed in culture. When he left that room I got we’re gonna end up with these guys. And we interviewed like 20 other firms and went through the whole process. It took a year and a half. And we ended up with Chris and actually the funny story as I took him away from private equity. He’s now my CEO. Oh, my goodness. I know. Isn’t that crazy?

Ressa 33:25
That is crazy. Yeah. Well, sometimes the private equity guys they have like these Hired Gun CEOs, because they’re buying businesses. And they, when they buy businesses, sometimes they change management and they put their guys in so you see that sometimes, but this is a little different of a scenario.

You know, if you were doing three, six, right, a location 13 locations. I mean, you know, they, they were probably looking like, oh my god, this is so young. And this guy’s got like a 35 $45 million business like, this is the they gotta be, you know, they were chomping at the bit I bet.

Kahn 33:59
Well, they, I mean, they I think they all were, but they believed in us more than the others obviously. Because, well, no, I mean, we had it came down to five or six of them. We really believed in peak men and especially Chris and John Triano, I really liked John Triano, the founder of the private equity firm. I’m still he’s just such a great guy communicator, and follows through with his word. You know, he’s one of the owners of the Florida Marlins.

He’s just a great guy just really down to earth. But yeah, they were all chomping at the bit, but I think they were smart. I mean, listen, they paid the highest valuation they’ve ever paid. And now the business is worth six or seven times more than what they paid for, in a short and a short three years.

So we thought we put one over on them. That’s not the case. They put one over on us because they believed in us so much. We had no idea this thing would be as big because it was as fast as it was three years later now. So

Ressa 35:05
how are you thinking about what markets you’re looking at? Like when I go to your website and look at locations? Yeah. You’re, you’re in a bunch of different states. So how do you guys think about where you want to go next in what markets you’re going into?

Kahn 35:19
Yeah, we’re, we’re very strategic. I mean, I have Jason Stiegler I hired probably five years ago, as the VP of real estate development. He came from real Bravo, he was the real estate guy for all those years. Tremendous guy, tremendous mind, really honest, very down to earth and doesn’t, you know, overblow, anything, he’s very real about where we should go and numbers and all that kind of stuff. Great guy best in the business have never found somebody better than him.

Even private equity, who deals has like five or six other concepts, says that Jason’s the best. But our strategy from the beginning was Midwest, secondary, tertiary markets, because we don’t want to go to a New York or Chicago, they’ve seen things like us before, right? We didn’t want to go there right away to do something like that. They wouldn’t be impressed. You have to get your shit together.

So, you know, it was really Midwest. So started out in Columbus, Ohio, and then we slowly filled up Ohio with a few. And then I knew that Pittsburgh was just close enough that they would maybe know our names. So I went to Pittsburgh. And then after Pittsburgh, I think I came back to Cincy. But the strategy is really here’s the interesting part, Christopher, we do our own distribution. We have a scratch fresh kitchen, our commissary that we is 26,000 square feet.

And we have our own trucks. We do everything ourselves. So we produce the food, we do our braises overnight, 14 hours, get in in the morning. We, you know, tear them apart, we do everything. We braise them, we cool them down, we do all this stuff. We sue VR stuff, but then it’s delivered to the restaurants from made to the restaurants within 18 hours.

Wow, that is one of our secrets to success and crave ability is that we keep everything in a centralized location. Not all of it 80% But it’s done fresh every day and delivered to the restaurant versus them doing it in the restaurants. You know, maybe the recipe changes just a little bit here and a little bit there. We don’t let that happen. We wanted to be consistent and craveable.

Ressa 37:44
But you know, as you get bigger, you’re gonna need more commissaries. Clearly,

Kahn 37:47
you know, we think we could probably do about 150

Ressa 37:50
in this commissary, yeah,

Kahn 37:52
we’re super efficient.

Ressa 37:53

Kahn 37:55
I mean, 9090 Well, I shouldn’t say that. 70% is all fresh ingredients, fresh, cold ingredients. So we’re cutting and dicing and, you know, parsley, and making our Glock and doing all this stuff. So yeah, we can get a lot out of this, we’ll probably need two to three commissaries eventually. But the strategy is, you know, right now Midwest, and now we’re going as far as the South, we’re in Nashville.

The strategy is to kind of fill up the right side of the United States without going to Florida or Texas right now, because they’re just a little too far. But we’re in Alabama this year, we’re all the way up in upper or lower New York and buffalo. We’re going to the left St. Louis, we’re actually going to be in 12 states by the end of the year, and 11 new love and new markets, I think this year.

So the strategy is very well thought out, you know, we have an 11 hour radius with our trucks that we can drive because of all the laws I think only one state this year, we’re going to have to keep a driver or drivers overnights. But you know, so literally middle of the middle upper part of the United States to the right, we just want to fill the right side of the United States before I think going back past Chicago, and then trying to fill the left side.

Ressa 39:17
Amazing. What a cool story. Thank you for sharing. I want, anything else you want to tell us about the business, the food, anything to leave people’s mouths watering before we, before we move on?

Kahn 39:31
You know, yeah, our food is just so craveable. You know, we did this huge study. And we’re like, we’re GMO free. We make it fresh every day, scratch kitchen, all this stuff. So fresh, blah, blah, blah. And then we did this study and people are like, I don’t give a shit about it. Your food is so fucking craveable I just want to drink the cheese and the cheese is like white American and heavy cream.

And milk, like the simplest ingredients, they just, they don’t care about health. But it’s a very craveable product and really fun environment. Very moderately priced. I mean, it’s the best 18 bucks per person you can spend. You cannot have a better time going out for 18 bucks per person, I guarantee at anywhere, at any restaurant. It’s just quite an experience. And we’re very blessed that we have great people that make this happen for people every day.

Ressa 40:29
Amazing. I want to take you to the last part of the show. We got three questions for you. Are you ready? Let’s do question one. What extinct retailer do you wish would come back from the dead?

Kahn 40:42
Oh, God. Showbiz Pizza. I had huge memories growing up as a kid I remember every Saturday, my dad would take me and my sister, and we would go and they had like these animated animals that would play a band. It’s what Chucky Cheese I think turned into. And there was little games all around and probably the worst pizza ever. But to us it was the greatest, but I have very fond memories. I would love to see Showbiz come back into existence.

Ressa 41:136
Next question. What item what is the last item over $20 You bought in the store?

Kahn 41:20
Oh gosh. Last item over $20 that I bought in a store? I think that that was probably yesterday. Well, I was stuck in the airport for five hours because of the FAA outages. I think I bought these headphones that I’m wearing right now.

Ressa 41:37
Amazing. Last question. If you and I were shopping at Target and I lost you, what aisle would I find you in?

Kahn 41:44
Oh gosh, you would definitely find me in the the electronics aisle. Yeah, looking for something either a game or whatever new piece of technology is out there.

Ressa 41:57
Well, everybody if you want to have an amazing experience for 18 bucks a person you got to check out. Condado Tacos.

Kahn 42:07
Awesome. Christopher, thank you so much for having me. That was a blast. I appreciate it.

Ressa 42:13
Thank you for listening to Retail Retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show, please reach out to us at This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney Also don’t forget to subscribe to Retail Retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode.

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