Nettie Brant is one of many passionate fans of Bonchon, the Dallas-based franchise on a mission to share the joy of Korean food. She enjoyed working at the Midlothian, VA location so much that when the original franchise owner shared his plans to retire, she went home and convinced her mother, Cheryl, that they should buy it. Two weeks later, they were the proud owners of their very own Bonchon! The mother-daughter duo will soon expand into multi-unit operators with the Richmond opening of one of the brand’s first ghost kitchens.
“Bonchon is a unique brand with truly authentic Korean dishes and the best wings around. I already knew how great it was to be part of the company so we seized on the opportunity to take over such a prime location,” said Brant. “Now with the ghost kitchen model, we’re able to provide a dedicated channel for Bonchon fans to get their favorites at their own convenience.”
Founded in Busan, South Korea in 2002, Bonchon first opened in the U.S. in New York City in 2006. The brand is known for its distinctive Korean fried chicken, hand-battered and double-fried to achieve its craveable crunch and hand-brushed to perfection with Bonchon’s unique sauces, including its newest addition of traditional Korean Yangnyeom sauce. A variety of other Asian fusion cuisine options and Korean specialties are also available.
Bonchon is in the midst of a growth spurt, with plans to expand from 125 to 500 U.S. locations and 420 to 500 global locations in the next five years, building on its international presence in countries including Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, France, and Vietnam. Thanks to the recent influx in popularity of Korean culture, from K-pop to cuisine, and a flexible menu of restaurant formats for franchise partners to choose from, the brand is well positioned to achieve these goals, with 40+ units signed already in 2023.
Franchise partner Thomas Heou will soon open his third Bonchon location – the brand’s first ghost kitchen. Coming from a financial services background, Heou carefully evaluated the multiple options offered by Bonchon. With two successful dine-in locations already in the Washington, D.C. market, he recognized the growing need for a solution that would significantly improve efficiency and meet the demand of customers seeking prompt meal delivery that still maintains the Bonchon quality they have come to expect.
“The market for online and delivery food continues to grow, particularly among the younger generations who are some of Bonchon’s biggest fans,” said Heou. “Through the ghost kitchen model, I’m able to focus on this critical element of our business separate from a traditional restaurant format, where the on-site guest experience is the priority.”
Earning an average unit volume of $1.68 million, Bonchon offers franchise partners fast casual and full-service settings, carry-out/delivery and, now, ghost kitchen options, which enable owners to have an additional brand presence that serves a distinct audience with minimal labor demands. Recent openings reflect a variety of non-traditional settings that also include several locations within malls and as part of food halls.
Kelly Moughal and Muhammad Saleem are franchise veterans with four brands in their ownership portfolio. They will soon open their first Bonchon at Queens Center Mall and are confident that this location will be successful.
“While Bonchon is a destination dining option for so many of our guests who will follow their craving for our unique flavors, we also believe the brand fits in well as an option while spending the day shopping or running errands,” said Moughal. “Food court Bonchon locations often have the longest lines during the lunchtime rush and we expect to see the same at the Queens Center Mall.”
“As an industry leader in not just authentic Korean cuisine but also innovation to drive growth, Bonchon is constantly seeking to develop restaurant models that best support both our franchise partners and our guests,” said Bonchon Chief Growth Officer Suzie Tsai. “Through the ghost kitchen, we are able to leverage technology for greater flexibility, help alleviate labor challenges, and increase brand awareness.”
Along with the variety of formats available, Bonchon provides a Restaurant Opening Concierge who partners with franchisees through site selection, store design, permitting, construction, and procurement, complemented by ongoing training, operational, and marketing support.
For information on franchising with Bonchon, visit franchising.bonchon.com.