It was bound to happen sooner or later. A competitor to Kogi has now hit the streets of Los Angeles.
There’s been some commentary over on Yelp:
“Calbi truck was good…but I like Kogi better. I think Kogi is more fusion and the flavors are more interesting. Calbi is just korean food wrapped in a corn tortilla. But I still enjoyed it!”
“Kogi is run by a bunch of young upstarts who know how to use the internet and be trendy (and think they invented Korean BBQ + Mexican fusion, which they didn’t). Calbi is run by a Korean lady and her husband who are trying to copy a good idea and provide decent food for people (lady in the truck gave me a free extra taco for chatting it up with her. Try to do that at Kogi).”
“I wish I had more time to appreciate the food. Also, you can get kimchi on the taco, but I declined. Will definitely be back, provided word doesn’t spread and the wait becomes obnoxious like Kogi.”
I’ve just gotten back to California and haven’t yet had a chance to sample either one. Rest assured, it’s on my list of summer projects.
Down in Houston, there’s also Bansuri Indian Food Corner, a new Indian taco truck.
Update (9:15 am): What does Kogi think of all of this?
Well, it turns out there’s an intense back story:
I understand that some peopLe’s soLe motivation is to just go out there and make a buck. But it is a bit sad when they so obviousLy put no souL into it or take the love and time to create and construct their own identity. If anything, I know that on some leveL, it might be fLattering — that someone is studying us like we’re some “business modeL” — though I don’t know if we’re reaLLy something to modeL after, since we go with our gut and wing it haLf the time.
Anyway, this is to be expected.
But… weLL… and this is coming from me — so this in no way refLects the views or opinions of any of the other members of the team, but… in the past we’ve been approached by a mom and pop shop to heLp them out. They came to us in tears, teLLing us that they were about to go under and were worried about how they were going to manage to support their kids, their famiLy.
Being quite the compassionate peopLe they are, key members of the team decided to change our usuaL route to park in front to heLp out this mom and pop shop. Chef Roy even went in to heLp them out with the menu, hoping that our presence wouLd provide more foot traffic to their shop.
And it did.
It was so successfuL, in fact, that the owner approached us for more joint business pLans — but it just was a littLe too much, too fast. PLus, we’re of the nomadic sort, so we’re a bit wary of tattooing ourseLves with a partnership after just 2 weeks of a joint project. So we parted ways… onLy to find out that about a month or so later, these same peopLe compLeteLy copied our “business modeL” from the inside out, even going so far as taking the recipes that Chef Roy had so graciousLy made for them and seLLing them on a newLy stickered truck, trying to mimic the spirit of our bLog posts, starting up their own Twitter feed and using our past coLLaboration to heLp themseLves in their new endeavors. ALso… parking at the exact locations and cross streets that we park at.
It is understandabLe that some of the team members — weLL yes, feeL duped — but more than that, they feeL emotionaLLy gutted. We invited these peopLe into our famiLy and they took advantage of us. Whether it’s to compete with us or it’s because they don’t have the confidence to work with what they know and what they’ve got, I don’t know.
All I do know is that some of the team members feeL reaLLy hurt and betrayed, for had they onLy asked — had they just said, “Yo! We want to start up our own truck too. Can you heLp us?”, we totaLLy wouLd have given them a heLping hand in that direction.
[via Hyphen magazine]