Kogi is the Korean word for meat. And Kogi on the street isn’t a metaphor for road kill. More likely, it’s a tweet about where the Kogi Korean taco trucks are. While Korean cuisine blended with Mexican might result in a fine and delicious taco, no one is sure such a product could succeed without the power of social media marketing. When a couple of well trained, well respected chefs in the Los Angeles area started Kogi, a taco truck business, they mostly ate the tacos themselves because no one would buy.
Taco trucks are said to be fairly ubiquitous in the L.A. area. So it would take an awful lot of hand waving and possibly a few power outages to get people to notice any new taco truck venture. Then there’s the iffi-ness of the cross-cultural idea. For the first few outings, the Kogi trucks couldn’t pay people to eat its Korean tacos. Maybe they could pay people but people wouldn’t pay them. And what’s the point in that?
Then one successful evening outside a nightclub led to customers uploading photos of the taco to Facebook. Suddenly people were lined up. When police shooed the trucks away from one location, the owners tweeted both to find and to publicize the new location. Soon enough they were cooking 400 to 500 pounds of meat daily and folks were lining up around the block. Forget customer service. Forget punctuality. So what if people have to wait for hours? The owner thinks it’s not so much the food, delicious though it might be, as people want to get in on the buzz. They’re adding trucks.
While the tech savvy Kogi owners can reach 5,000 fans in a twitter minute, other taco trucks without social networking are confined to small neighborhoods. No buzz, no biz, so to speak. Now the Kogi guys are testing out their idea in brick and mortar. It’s hard to make big bucks selling from trucks. But now they have new worries. How do you know if people will tweet for meat if it’s in a building and not a truck?