Tacombi grows with the enlightened hospitality of Danny Meyer
The 13-unit New York-based taqueria Tacombi has won a $ 27.5 million investment from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group-affiliated growth equity fund, the fund announced Thursday.
Enlightened Hospitality Investments, or EHI – which has a growing portfolio that includes Dig, Salt & Straw and Joe Coffee Company – is joined in the Tacombi funding round by Mexican firms Capital Mazapil and Rodina, a private investment firm and a family office headed by Andres and Felipe Chico; as well as Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and former CEO of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm. Hirshberg will join Tacombi’s board of directors.
Dario Wolos, who was born in New York City but spent much of his life in Monterrey, Mexico, started Tacombi in 2006 on the Yucatan Peninsula in the resort town of Playa del Carmen. It started out as a taco stand pulled out of a converted Volkswagen bus – known in Mexico as the ‘combi’.
âI had no idea what I was doing and it really started out as a fun adventure,â Wolos said in an interview.
Tacombi’s menu grew to feature regional flavors from all over Mexico, which he said âreminded me of the road trips I took with my family when we were driving around Mexico. We have had visitors from the United States, Canada and Europe to Playa del Carmen. He exposed the architecture of what this brand could become.
After opening two there, the concept took a hit when swine flu largely shut down tourism to the area. But Wolos had been planning to bring an authentically Mexican concept to the United States since he was a student at Cornell University, so he put the VW combi on a boat in Miami and trucked it to New York City in 2010, and the brand was launched in us
Wolos’ mission was to âshare Mexican culture through exceptional hospitality and experiencesâ. Restaurants have a focused menu of tacos and burritos, with beer and a few cocktails, though Wolos said the bar wasn’t the center of attention. The concept makes about half of its sales in the form of takeout or delivery, he said.
Tacombe now has 11 branches in New York City and units have opened in the Washington, DC area and Miami in the past few weeks.
With this investment, the taqueria plans to grow to reach at least 75 locations across the United States with multiple formats over the next five years. In 2022, three more are slated for the DC and Miami markets, and Wolos said leases have been signed for new units in Long Island and Chicago.
The company is also considering licensing partnerships to expand overseas, Wolos said, particularly in markets where Shake Shack – which was founded by Meyer and later turned into a state-owned company – also operates, notably in Middle East, China and Japan.
In addition, Tacombi plans to build on a consumer product brand that it developed called Vista Hermosa, which was created when restaurants couldn’t find tortillas that met their standards, so they started making. theirs.
From a production facility in New Jersey, the Vista Hermosa brand now includes corn and flour tortillas and tortilla chips (“Topotos”) which are sold in 800 retail stores, including Whole Foods Markets in select regions, Bristol Farms and online. Next year, the company plans to add frozen burritos, and Tacombi also sells an exclusive line of juices and sodas under the Lupita brand.
âI really believe what we’re doing is a perspective on Mexico that a lot of people will love across the United States,â Wolos said. âOur goal is really to improve people and supply chain systems as we grow. It is the highest priority, to make sure the quality stays and improves.
Meyer, who is co-founder of EHI and president and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, said Wolos’ mission to share Mexican hospitality with a wider American audience is a good fit for the investment fund. .
âTacombi is building an incredibly dynamic business, solidly positioned for growth with both its vibrant taquerias and its exceptional line of quality packaged products,â Meyer said in a statement.
La taqueria also supports the Tacombi Foundation, which fights food insecurity in the markets where restaurants operate, with a Tacombi community cooking program to prepare healthy meals for those in need, which began during the pandemic and s ‘is continued.
Tacombi was advised on the funding round by Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the frozen burrito line had started. It is scheduled for 2022. The Tacombi Foundation is also fighting food insecurity in the communities where the company operates, not in Mexico.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [emailÂ protected]
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