This Mexican Chain Poised To Be The Next Chipotle Has A Great Backstory

The popular New York City-based taqueria, Tacombi, is likely to make a much bigger name for itself, thanks to a major investment by some culinary power players. According to Bloomberg, the taco chain recently raised $27.5 million in funding, with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer's Enlightened Hospitality Investments, heading the charge as the lead investor.

Meyer is perhaps best known for founding the enormously successful international burger chain, Shake Shack, in 2004. He is also the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and is one of the most successful and influential players in the restaurant business. The show of fiscal support from the restaurateur, who also recently made a large investment in Panera Bread (via Business Wire), indicates that Tacombi could be the next big thing in Mexican cuisine.

According to Eater, Tacombi founder Dario Wolos plans to use the investment funds to open as many as 75 locations within the next five years. This widespread expansion, which could soon make Tacombi a household name in the tradition of other major Mexican chains like Chipotle and Taco Bell, is a huge move for the restaurant, which got its humble start far from the bright lights of New York City. In the company's own words: "Tacombi was born on the balmy beaches of the Yucatán in 2006 with little more than a cloudless, palm-filled dream of sharing the beauty of authentic Mexican culture with the world" (via the Tacombi website).

Tacombi's story starts with a 'bus ride'

Dario Wolos' mini-empire got its scrappy start by selling tacos out of a renovated 1963 VW Kombi bus, which the chef purchased in Mexico City and transported to Playa del Carmen, a "sleepy" beach town (which has since become a popular tourist destination), per the Tacombi website. The chef gutted the van, installed cooking equipment where seats once were, and opened up the roof to create a functional food truck.

According to What's Hamptoning, after its initial success, Tacombi expanded to another location in Playa del Carmen along the town's bustling nightclub strip before deciding to move the operation to New York City. While at first, Tacombi sought out a mere parking spot for the taco truck, the dream quickly grew, and in 2010, the restaurateur opened up his first restaurant in a garage-style space on Elizabeth Street in downtown Manhattan that could still comfortably house the trademark VW van. Since then, the taqueria has expanded to over a dozen locations across New York City, Miami, and Washington, D.C. (via Bloomberg). The company expects its total revenue to exceed $50 million in 2022 alone.

Despite its success — and new investments by major restaurant power players, like Meyer — Tacombi, which has plans to undergo a major expansion over the next few years, has stayed true to its mission of bringing authentic Mexican dishes to the masses, continuously drawing inspiration from the beaches of Mexico where it got its start 15 years ago.