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Escobar considers franchise as a nightclub concept

Atlanta’s Escobar Restaurant & Tapas Lounge is for the over 25s, says co-founder Mychel “Snoop” Dillard. The hardworking urban professionals and entrepreneurs.

But it’s also for the celebrities, and the list stands out: Snoop Dogg, TI, singer/songwriter Jacquees, former NBA player Stephen Jackson and rap artist Trina.

The restaurant, which Dillard co-founded with Grammy-award winning rapper 2 Chainz, has a nightclub vibe with blue sofas in the VIP area, gold floors and multicolored tiles at the bar. Walk-ins are accepted, but if one wants table and bottle service, reservations will be delayed for up to three months.

Escobar serves lunch and dinner every day until 10pm with a menu curated by executive chef Dephon Robinson, who has worked with celebrities such as Queen Latifah and Gabrielle Union. After 10pm the restaurant turns into a lounge and offers drinks and music until 3am

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The first Escobar opened in 2016 and the second unit debuted three years later. There is also a spin-off concept, Esco Seafood.

Now that the right systems are in place, the chain is preparing for a franchise expansion strategy. FSR recently sat down with Dillard to learn more about Escobar’s growth and where the development will take place.

How was Escobar founded?

The concept originated between me and my business partner, Grammy award-winning rapper 2 Chainz. Pretty much, we just decided we wanted to create something that would be for the over 25s, that would just have a really dope vibe. The Mercedes Benz, for example, is our DJ booth, a gold-wrapped Mercedes-Benz.

Our food is really good. I wanted to create something that would serve good food late at night. Because we struggled with this in Atlanta at the time and so this is a restaurant where you can get lamb chops, lobster tails, pasta, various things of that nature until 2am. And not only great food, but also great music and just a good vibe and vibe. That was pretty much the foundation of our brand.

What made the right time to start franchising?

This December will be six years for our first location. So we feel like we have the systems to help other people open their own restaurant and see a lot of the success we’ve had. This Escobar brand is virtually unstoppable even during the pandemic. Our numbers have skyrocketed during the pandemic. And so we feel like we have the systems to help people be successful no matter what’s going on in the world right now.

The way you describe the atmosphere and the setting and the menu, it seems like a very comprehensive concept across the board. What will be the keys to being able to replicate that vibe across multiple franchise stores?

The key will use the systems that we have set up. Number one just starts with the restaurant and its look and decor. The venue must have a patio. People love terraces, especially when the weather is nice. The colors we used in the core just give it a fun party feel. So it is not only a restaurant, but also a lounge. That will be very important, as well as following the recipes we have prepared for the foods that will be on the menu to make sure everything is consistent and tastes the same.

Can you describe to me the characteristics you would look for in a potential franchisee?

So some of our requirements, number one, they must have a minimum of $150,000 in capital, two years of tax returns showing that they have brought in a decent amount and filed their taxes responsibly, three months of bank statements, a minimum credit score of 600, and the operator of the business must have four years experience in the hospitality industry. This is simply not an industry that you can just enter without any experience. You can certainly own a restaurant without any experience, but whoever is going to run that business should definitely have some experience in the hospitality industry.

The restaurants are doing well in the large metropolis, but they are also doing well in some of these medium-sized cities. I wouldn’t recommend any city that’s just super, super small, four traffic lights, or anything like that. But those are some of the things we look for. Someone who is just very business savvy, who has experience in creating a team and building a team of the right people.

When I went through your website, I saw the house rules you guys had, which I quite liked. Can you share its development?

We actually came up with those house rules during the pandemic. Atlanta was thus one of the few cities that remained open while many other places were closed. Because that was the case, people were just very different during the pandemic. I think after being locked up for the time when individuals were supposed to be locked up they just came out a little wild to be honest. And that’s how we eventually developed those house rules. And so all franchisees will have to follow those house rules at their location as well. It really helped us keep our customers safe and maintain the integrity of our restaurant and let people know the rules of each location right away so they know what to understand and what we will and won’t accept while visiting our restaurant patronizes.

Do you have a timeline of when you’d like to sign franchise agreements and when you think a franchise store might open? Is there a goal you have set for yourself?

So we have a few deals on the table now and some people going through the process so hopefully we will sign our first franchise agreement within the next 30 days.

Looking ahead to the future, what do you think Escobar can achieve?

We want to have at least 10-15 branches within two years. That’s really our short-term goal. I really think the sky is the limit. If we stay focused and make sure we attract franchisees who are qualified and experienced in the hospitality industry, I really think this is something that can go super far. as i said we are celebrating our six year anniversary this year at our downtown location so i don’t see us stopping anytime soon.