|Industry||Restaurant, food trucks|
|Founded||United States (2010 )|
Chi'Lantro BBQ is a Korean Mexican fusion mobile truck and catering service which opened in Austin, Texas in 2010. Since then, the former food truck operation has opened four restaurants in the Austin area, with a 5th location opening in Fall 2016. The name "Chi'Lantro" is a fusion of "kimchi" and "cilantro", two distinct cultural staples, aiming to reinvent traditional Korean and Mexican cuisine. They are locally known as the originator of a dish known as "Kimchi Fries".
In February 2010, the business was opened by Jae Kim, who was born in Korea and moved to the U.S. when he was eleven years old. He graduated from California State University, Fullerton and opened his first food business at the age of twenty-one, a coffee shop called "Foothill Café", which he owned for three years. He relocated to the "culturally diverse" Austin area to open the food truck business, at age twenty-six.
The food truck operations initially served only the Austin and Fort Hood, Texas areas, expanding beyond the Austin market in early 2012 with food truck service in Houston, which was discontinued in December, 2014, with an announcement that the business was looking for a restaurant space.
The menu features hybrid cuisine inspired by Korean and Mexican food traditions. Items include Kimchi Fries, Seoul Burritos, Spicy Fries, Tacos, Quesadillas and bulgogi Burgers. Ingredients include combinations of bulgogi, Korean vinaigrette salad, eggs, Monterey Jack Cheese, limejuice, a proprietary "magic sauce" and sesame seeds. Its signature food, Kimchi Fries, are covered in caramelized bulgogi, shredded cheddar cheese, chile mayonnaise, yellow onion, chopped fresh cilantro, Thai chile sauce, and sesame seeds.
Style of Operation
Prior to opening a restaurant location, the business functioned primarily as a mobile kitchen or food truck. The trucks make scheduled stops in the mornings, afternoons and evenings in highly commercial areas, in areas that appeal to consumers in the white-collar workforce, in addition to manual laborers, the stereotypical customers for such establishments. Example stops include tech-industry hubs like the offices of Google, NCSoft, and BioWare. Another part of the service is catering for parties, corporate events, promotions, weddings, festivals, conventions, and various large social events in the area.
In January 2015, a small brick and mortar location opened, adding an eat-in option to their outdoor service.
As of April 18, 2016 all Chi'lantro brick and mortars will not accept cash. All locations support Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and all major credit and debit cards.
Use of Internet and Social Media
The business makes extensive use of social media applications such as Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook to connect with a "tech savvy" customer base. Publishing of tweets keeps customers informed about where each truck is going to be located. The trucks are one of the many food trucks nationwide to pioneer the use of Android and Apple mobile devices for credit card transactions and the organization of finances. They are popular on YouTube for its series of commercials targeted to its fans: It's That Good, Fries Like a G6 and Chi'Lantrofied!
By 2011, the food trucks had been featured on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel; and in 2014 were named one of Huffington Post's favorite food trucks at SXSW. In November 2016, founder Jae Kim appeared on Season 8 Episode 8 of ABC's Shark Tank and secured a $600,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran for a 20% stake in Chi'Lantro BBQ.
Participation in Special Events and Promotions
- Nocturnal Festival: September 6, 2010
- 21st place in Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race: August 10, 2010
- Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival, Austin, TX: November 2010
- Charity promotion for Japanese Earthquake Relief: March 2011
- SXSW Promotion with Intuit GoPayment and Loopt
- Texas Craft Brewers Festival: September 24, 2011
- Fun Fun Fun Fest: November 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
- Austin City Limits 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
- Free Press Summer Fest 2012, 2013, 2014
- South by Southwest 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015
- "Episode: CCEAT-108H". Barbeque This: Eat Street. Cooking Channel. February 28, 2012.
- Thomas, Andrew (February 2, 2015). "First Look: Chi'Lantro Restaurant". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- Watson, Brandon. "Chi'Lantro renews fast casual". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "Chi'Lantro BBQ's main website Homepage".
- "The Original Maker of Kimchi Fries". UrbanSwankBlog. December 9, 2011.
- Han, Jane (April 10, 2014). "Chi'Lantro truck has a Texas-sized hit in Kimchi fries". The Korea Times. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
- Thayer, Rose L. (September 28, 2011). "Chi'Lantro combines flavors of Korean, Mexican dishes". Killeen Daily Herald. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
- "Chi'Lantro Announces Houston Open Date". Eater: Houston. November 29, 2011.
- Waguespack, Andrea. "La Macro closes its doors, hopes to re-open at new location". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- McCarron, Meghan (March 25, 2015). "Empire-Building Chi'Lantro Will Launch a Second Location on Burnet Road". Eater Austin. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "Tacos and Kimchi Fries". What to Eat and Where. dishtip.
- "Kimchi Fries Recipes". Cooking Channel.
- "Chi'lantro BBQ: Fresh Fusion to Go". Yahoo Voices. February 16, 2011.
- "Chi'lantro Brick & Mortar". January 20, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
- "How 9 Food Trucks Use Tech To Drive Business". Mashable. July 14, 2011.
- The Great Food Truck Race
- VanWettering, Sarah (March 17, 2014). "10 Food Trucks You Need To Visit In Austin, TX". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- Gypsy Picnic. Food & Music: "Chi'Lantro BBQ"
- myFOXaustin: Austin Food Vendor Raises Money for Japan Relief
- Mashable.com: Chi'Lantro BBQ - Offering a Deal, #4 in the article
- Texas Craft Brewers Festival