As of late, Roy Choi has been working hard to debut the first two locations of his upcoming fast-food-with-a-conscience spot Loco’l alongside S.F.’s own Daniel Patterson. You’ve probably heard about it at least once or twice or so — after all, these are some mighty popular chefs. But why oh why is Loco’l trying to crowdsource their way to success if the two men in charge already have enough cache (and money) to do a private deal with investors?
It’s an interesting question, and one that crowdsourcing in general has had to deal with over the years (anyone remember that Zach Braff fiasco?). So, naturally, someone did get around to asking just why Patterson and Choi are seeking public money to finance their private fast food restaurant chain. And in true Papi Chulo fashion, Roy Choi dutifully responded.
The entire exchange can be found on Quora, a popular question and answer app and website. The multi-hyphenate chef (seriously, check his nickname run-down at the top) breaks down his argument for why Loco’l can (and should) ask for money from everyday folks, but the main points are these:
What they’re trying to do is really, really hard. Making fast food using whole ingredients at a price point that doesn’t deter the usual fast food customer is hard. And the startup costs for making such a wild dream a reality are pretty astronomical. It's a lot more up-front money than what's even being asked for, that's for sure. Rest assured, the restaurants will not be entirely crowd funded.
It’s a public good. Beyond the food being offered as an alternative to corporate-backed fast food, Patterson and Choi are planning on building on-site commissary kitchens into their restaurants that are available as teaching and learning tools to the local communities.
They want to connect with the world. Instead of just throwing up one more faceless restaurant (even in an underserved community), the duo want to actively involve their neighbors, and get them to think about food differently. What better way to involve those people then to give them a financial interest in seeing it succeed?
They’re losing money on the perks anyway, so why not engage with the community. Many of the paid perks are designed to lose money (his example: $25 gets you a $25 gift card to Loco’l AND a digital recipe book, meaning with overhead and processing they’re in the red). However, they increase engagement, getting people into the storefronts and talking with their community.
Regular investing hides lots of gross details. Sometimes chasing a big wallet means needed to come up with concessions that make investors happy. Patterson and Choi didn’t want to concede anything or feel like they had to bow down to someone else’s money by making big changes to their concept. Raising money allows them to do things their way, which (hopefully) matches up with the way that the crowdsourcing crowd feels, too. More good vibes for all.