What Makes Pincho So Unique Among Food Franchises?
Somewhere between better burgers, Latin street food and elegant fast-casual, Pincho has created a food franchise like no one else.
At Pincho, we have a saying: Our only competition is last year’s sales. That’s because when you look at the world of food franchises, no one does it quite like Pincho. We’re not a fast-casual burger franchise, although our burgers have won many awards and account for over 30% of our sales. We’re not a Mexican franchise, but our flavor profile is decidedly Latin.
“There’s nobody else like us in the U.S.,” says CEO and Co-Founder Otto Othman. “I’m not sure there’s anybody else like us anywhere that is serving up these kinds of meals influenced by iconic Latin street food and Latin American dishes. You wrap all that up into a concept that has fantastic economics, and you have something truly unique.”
Other food franchises don’t serve what we serve
Culinary Director Adrian Sanchez notes that Pincho stays true to its flavor profile while constantly working on something new, something different, trying to evolve to share the tastes of iconic food from all the different Latin cultures.
“The Latin culture is very broad,” he says. “You’re talking about anything from the Caribbean and Central America to South America, Portugal, Spain. We’re constantly looking for what’s trending, what’s popular.”
“We don’t look for necessarily authentic recipes, something you would typically have at a Peruvian or a Cuban sit-down restaurant,” Sanchez says. “What we look for more is authentic ingredients from these different countries and different cultures and how we can blend them together and kind of Americanize it a little bit, whether it’s on a salad, a burger, a taco, anything like that.”
We don’t do discounts or coupons. Instead, we offer up chef-driven LTOs, or Chalkboard Specials as we refer to them. One of our most popular menu items that started out as a Chalkboard Special is the Toston Burger.
“This was a play off of the Venezuelan dish called the patacone, which is a fried plantain with shredded beef, usually with avocado and a sauce,” says Co-Founder Nedal Ahmad. “So we kind of took our own play on it and we turned it into a burger. Basically two plantains are the buns, instead of your typical bread, and then we did our burger patty with jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and a cilantro mayo, and the Toston Burger was born.”
And the impact? “When we took it off the chalkboard, everybody kept on coming back asking for it again and again, so we actually brought it back one more time as an LTO and eventually put it onto our permanent menu.”
Our competitive edge
We won the 2019 South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash, an event typically dominated by celeb chefs like Bobby Flay and Michael Symon. (We also won in 2015.) But, while Pincho is known for our Latin-flavor infused burgers, we’re more than just a better burger joint. Our namesake Pinchos, skewers of grilled meat or shrimp, comprise the base for wraps, rice bowls and salads that guests can personalize. The Latin grill concept keeps diners interested and coming back for more, ringing up an average ticket of around $20 per person.
When it comes to the quality of our food, we want to emulate restaurant brands like Shake Shack. Our beef is certified humanely raised and handled from a select 250 U.S. family-owned farms. It’s always fresh, all natural, and free of any antibiotics and hormones.
Our chicken is 100% fresh white-meat chicken breast cut daily and always made to order. Our hotdogs are 100% certified Kosher beef. We care about our food sourcing, and you can taste the difference in our menu.
How we’ve generated a loyal brand following
With guest services, we believe more is more. Customers come in and order their food and find a table. Pincho team members bring out their orders, refill their drinks or offer to get them another beer during their meals, and then bus their tables afterward. We’re all about high-touch customer service because we want the experience to be really special. That’s one reason we do well not only during the lunch daypart but also the dinner daypart.
Our food not only has to taste good, it has to look good, says Othman. “One of the reasons we’re so successful in our digital marketing strategy is because when it comes to content, we put a lot of thought into it. We have meetings about the tone, about the brand, the voice. We look at Pincho as a person, and we really know how to connect with our demo.
“We know what our consumer wants to see. We talk to them. We tell the right stories. We’re putting out really raw content that they connect to. So we’re more likely to get followers on social media than other brands because we have this authenticity to the voice, authenticity to the marketing, authenticity to the look and feel that other brands really miss.”
If you’re looking at food franchises and trying to find the right better burger franchise or a Mexican franchise, that’s great. But if you’re looking for something out of the box, something with the unit-level economics and the potential to make it worth your while — and your investment — we think you should give Pincho strong consideration.
Ahmad has already watched his idea go from neighborhood hangout to popular South Florida restaurant chain. He sees an even bigger transformation in the near future.
“I think we can be in just about any neighborhood in this country and do well,” says Ahmad. “I think there’s a high demand for Latin-influenced food all over the country right now. It’s not just your typical Mexican Latin. There’s so much more to it. And I think people want to explore different regions of Latin America in their eating. And in their businesses. Why not have something different in your portfolio?
“In five years what I really want people to say about us is just that we continue to be unique. That’s always been our driving force: We’re not just a better type of restaurant or a better fast casual; we’re genuinely different. And that’s always been our goal. Better is great, but different is always better.”