Chi Lantro

chi lantroJae Kim wants to cook up a deal for Chi Lantro, his food truck/restaurant business featuring Korean barbecue, in Shark Tank episode 809. Kim started the business in 2010 with one food truck and a dream. Since then, he’s opened 4 brick and mortar restaurants and has multiple trucks for his growing catering business.

The name Chi Lantro is a mix of the words KimCHI and CiLANTRO. He fuses Korean Barbecue and Mexican cuisine in the greater Austin, Texas area and his signature Kimchi fries have legions of raving fans. The fusion of traditional Mexican foods, like tacos, with Korean cuisine began in California in the mid 2000’s. Kim brought the concept to Texas and found great success.

Apparently, Kim tried out three times before getting selected to appear on Shark Tank. He’s no stranger to reality TV though, he appeared on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race in 2010 – the same year he started the business. The Sharks will like that Kim kept growing as he continued trying out for the show.

Will a Shark want to roll with this food truck?

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Chi Lantro Shark Tank Recap

Jae enters seeking $600,000 for 15% of his business. He tells the Sharks that he finally made it on the show after two previous attempts. He now has a fleet of trucks and three brick and mortar restaurants with plans for three more. He invites Chris Sacca up to make a Korean bowl and Chris is excited. Jae makes a bowl for Chris at his request, then hands out bowls to the other Sharks.

The Sharks love it – especially the kimchi fries. He tells the Sharks about his background and about a failed coffee shop business when he was 21. He said it failed because he had no vision for it. He started his current business with his life savings $30,000 – and by maxing out his credit cards for six months. Mark likes that story.

Jae did $4.7 million in total sales the year before and he needs money to grow the business. He eventually wants to grow to 15 restaurants. Chris says he loves the food, but doesn’t share Jae’s vision, he’s out. Kevin says his past restaurant investments didn’t work out – he’s out. Mark commends Jae on his success but says he’s not a “restaurant guy,” he’s out too. Lori goes out stating she was concerned about Jae’s growth plans.

That leaves Barbara. She touts her success with growing Tom and Chee to over $50 million in sales. Barbara offers $600,000 for 30%. Jae counters with 20% and Barbara accepts.

Chi Lantro Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. The deal with Barbara never closed. Chris Sacca expressed regret in not investing after the fact. Jae now has 8 restaurants, a catering division plus a fleet of trucks.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, he introduced the concept of neighborhood pop-ups. He’d bring a truck into a neighborhood for a few hours so people could get his food while maintaining quarantine protocols. The business is still thriving in 2021 and estimated revenues are $13-$15 million annually.

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