**As of 12/25/2021
Founded in Busan, South Korea, in 2002, Bonchon opened its first U.S. location in Fort Lee, New Jersey, just four years later. Now, the chain known for its flavorful and crunch-worthy Korean fried chicken has 114 U.S. locations from Boston to San Diego, and Oregon to Florida.
Bonchon’s most popular item is its hand-battered, double-fried chicken wings and strips, which are hand-brushed (not tossed) with signature spicy or soy garlic sauces invented by founder Jinduk Seo. When the franchise topped Food & Wine’s Best Chicken Wings in the U.S. list in 2017, it received national attention. In 2019, Bonchon beat out several major players in the wing game to win Business Insider’s Best Fried Chicken honors.
“That validated the quality of food and strength of the brand to both the consumer and franchisees,” says Greg Buchanan, senior vice president of development at Bonchon. “We also recently worked with Black Box Intelligence™ to collect data on our sales performance in comparison to the competition. Bonchon has consistently outperformed all other segments and cuisines in our two-year metrics, 2021 versus 2019, with positive 23-percent same store sales as of Dec. 25, 2021. When it comes to average unit volume, it’s increased 27 percent over the past four years with our comp store sales growth up 15 percent from 2020. Most franchisees come to us after experiencing the restaurant as a consumer—the fact that we win these awards for best wings and have the data to prove our success only makes us more attractive in their eyes.”
But Bonchon is no one-trick pony. The rest of the menu—which includes Korean comfort food like bulgogi, bibimbap, japchae, kimchi, and much more—is equally flavorful and impactful, making it a favorite among foodies and families alike. It also travels well, an important factor considering more than half of the chain’s orders are for takeout—leading to the launch of its first fast-casual location last year in Addison, Texas. To accommodate shifting demand for off-premises dining options and catering, as well as growing interest from new and current franchisees around this model, the brand is continuing to open more fast-casual locations.
“Historically we have been a full-service restaurant, but we’re beginning to open more fast-casual prototypes, and there are a few reasons why,” Buchanan says. “The fast-casual model meets the off-premise demands of today’s consumers while also having a lower investment cost for franchisees.”
Bonchon is seeking franchisees with restaurant experience who are passionate about the brand and interested in area development agreements. Potential franchisees also need to have a net worth of $700,000, along with $250,000 of liquidity per store. “Our ideal franchisee has franchise experience with other brands and is looking to do a multi-unit deal,” Buchanan says. “However, that is not required—they can do one or two stores.”
Bonchon has what it calls an all-star executive team led by CEO Flynn Dekker, who served as CMO of Wingstop from 2014-2018. Once franchisees sign on, they receive strong support from the C-Suite, from site selection to opening and regular check-ins. Bonchon expects to open 30 stores in 2022, with a goal of having 400 units in the U.S. by 2027.
For more on franchising with Bonchon, visit franchising.bonchon.com.