Richard Sandoval brings Kokoriko to the U.S.
Multi-concept chef and operator Richard Sandoval is bringing the Colombia-based fast-casual Kokoriko rotisserie chicken concept to the U.S.
With his first unit scheduled to open April 25 in Miami, Sandoval said he sees the concept as a potential chain across the U.S., where demand for Latin flavors is growing.
Kokoriko is a 43-year-old brand that operates about 120 locations in Colombia, where Sandoval discovered the marinated chicken in his travels.
“It reminded me of my days growing up in Mexico,” Sandoval said of the brand.
Though Kokoriko has one franchised location in South Florida, Sandoval said he will partner with Kokoriko chief executive Eduardo Robayo to grow the brand further in the U.S. as a slightly different concept called Kokoriko Natural Rotisserie.
Sandoval noted that this project will be his first step into the fast-casual world.
He owns the New York-based Richard Sandoval Restaurant Group, which operates 30 restaurants across the U.S. and in the Middle East and Mexico, including the multiple-location La Sandia and Zengo concepts, as well as Tamayo, Pampano and Maya. Most of Sandoval's restaurants are high-end or upscale casual, but he said the Kokoriko concept fit with his vision of adding more casual and fun restaurants to his growing portfolio.
Sandoval’s version of Kokoriko will bring more artisanal elements to the menu and design, he said. The menu, for example, will focus on chicken—only free-range, all-natural birds—marinated in either the original recipe or a version developed by Sandoval with a more Peruvian/Mexican bent. The marinade is spiked with achiote, which gives the meat a bright red color.
The menu will also include sides like arepas, or Colombian corn cakes filled with chicken salad or barbecued chicken, as well as tacos, chopped salads, a creamy potato-and-chicken soup called ajiaco, and house-made salsas.
The 3,000-square-foot first location will seat about 78 inside and another 76 on the patio.
The average check will be roughly $10 per person, or about $20 for a whole chicken.
Sandovol considers Miami the ideal first market for Kokoriko Natural Rotisserie because he sees it as “a melting pot of South America.”
Like the Guatemala-based Pollo Campero chain, which has more than 50 locations in the U.S., Kokoriko would also work on the West Coast and in other markets with growing Latin demographics, said Sandoval.
“We want to figure this out and see how people like it and understand it,” he said.