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Restaurateur Danny Meyer Throws Millions Behind NYC Taco Chain to Take on Chipotle and Taco Bell

Tacombi plans to open a slew of new locations over the next few years

Customers standing and sitting inside a colorful taqueria.
Tacombi’s Nolita shop.
Tacombi

Following a headline-grabbing Panera deal, famed Union Square Hospitality Group restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer is investing in breezy hit taco chain Tacombi. On Thursday, the fast casual chain announced a $27.5 million round of funding led by Meyer’s investment arm, Enlightened Hospitality Investments. Bloomberg first reported the news.

Tacombi founder Dario Wolos will use the money in part to open more restaurants across the country, starting with an East Coast expansion. At least five more locations will open next year in Tacombi’s existing cities — NYC, Miami, and Washington, D.C. — and Connecticut. He is following that up with 12 more new shops in 2023, including outposts in New Jersey and Long Island.

Wolos estimates there will be 75 Tacombi locations within the next five years, according to Bloomberg. The company currently counts 13 locations in total, including 11 in NYC.

Additional investors in the funding round include Gary Hirshberg, the co-founder of yogurt company Stonyfield Farm, and two Mexico-based companies: Rodina, a hospitality investment firm, and Capital Mazapil, a private equity fund.

The nearly $30 million will also be used to upgrade Tacombi’s ordering technology and build out the company’s packaged goods line, Vista Hermosa, which sells fresh corn and flour tortillas, and totopos, or baked tortilla chips. The company also plans to add a line of frozen burritos to sell in “a handful of regions” next year.

Tacombi got its start slinging tacos out of a VW bus on the Yucatán in 2006, and then expanded to NYC with its first shop in Nolita in 2010. The chain is an easygoing hangout known for its tacos stuffed with crispy cod, carne asada, and al pastor; burritos wrapped in housemade flour tortillas; and pitchers of margaritas.

As for Meyer — whose hospitality group USHG also owns taco spot Tacocina in Domino Park — he sees potential in Tacombi as a “transporting” restaurant experience that will stack up as a more hospitality-oriented competitor to national chains like Chipotle and Taco Bell, according to Bloomberg. Meyer has been busy lately: He backed national cafe chain Panera’s initial public offering earlier this year through an aquisition group tied to USHG. Meyer’s investment firm, Enlightened Hospitality Investments also holds stakes in coffee shop Joe Coffee Company, fast casual chain Dig, and ice cream purveyor Salt and Straw, among other businesses.

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