3 locations

District Elite

Fast Casual 2.0 brands that are helping turn Washington, D.C., into a new capital of restaurant innovation.

Like many cities across the country, D.C. experienced a food-truck boom a few years back, with parades of trucks lining the National Mall and prowling the district’s streets, dishing to tourists and federal employees alike. Also similar to other cities, that food-truck explosion—which continues today—led to several brick-and-mortar iterations of the mobile brands.

TaKorean is one such brand. The brainchild of entrepreneur Mike Lenard, TaKorean fuses Latin and Korean cuisines in the form of build-your-own Korean tacos and bowls. Lenard says his original vision was to build a food-truck empire with many different brands. But when the lines kept getting longer, he decided to scrap the original vision and go all in on TaKorean as a brick-and-mortar brand.

Today, TaKorean has three locations, and Lenard is planning for slow national growth. “At three [locations], I’m thinking about getting to eight or 10. I’m not thinking about getting to 40 in New York, L.A., or San Francisco. When I get to 10, then I’ll start thinking about that kind of stuff,” he says. “A lot of these brands fizzle. There are a lot of mediocre fast casuals. There are only a few that are really good, and those few don’t grow really fast.”