Cupbop: offers a winning combination for success

“Combo!” cupbop repeats the employee behind the counter.

Cupbop One of the managers teases a customer for ordering the lowest level of spice, calling him Baby Spice, and encouraging him to add more heat to his food.

Cupbop is a fast-service restaurant that offers Korean barbecue in a bowl. Its signature features include shouting orders and laughing with customers.

In 2013, the company began with one food truck, and it brought in $300,000. Fast forward to today, the company now has five food trucks as well as eight brick-and mortar locations in Utah (with one more on the way), two in Idaho, and three in Jakarta. According to J Park, one co-owner, the company now generates $10 million annually.

Park, JK Kim, and Jung Song are all originally from Korea. They met while serving in a LDS Church mission in Korea and they all moved to Utah together. They were originally in the restaurant marketing business and could see what worked and what didn’t.

After conducting customer surveys, they opened another location in West Valley City. They opened stores in Utah and Salt Lake counties as well, continuing to follow customer demand. The owners have kept the location secret for now, but a downtown Salt Lake City location will open before the end 2017.

Cupbop is not a franchise but its owners have big dreams of becoming the next Panda Express.

Cory Nelson is a Cupbop convert. Chad Nelson, his husband introduced it to him around two years ago. He’s now a regular at the food truck, but has yet to visit one of the physical stores.

On a scale from 10 to 10, he orders either a 6 or 7, and always gets a top-of-the-line potsticker.

It’s worth the upgrade. Nelson, who has a rare condition called PKU and can only eat small amounts of protein due to his illness, said that he is a big fan of potstickers and loves mayo. He finds the bowls that include noodles and rice to be a good choice for his dietary requirements. Cupbop employees are also very friendly.

He quit a job he didn’t like and found Cupbop’s management style to be a better fit.

Torina, who began by driving trucks, said that the energy and enthusiasm of the employees was amazing. She was then promoted to manager.

Cupbop is a favorite among people, he says. He often has people approach him when he’s wearing a work shirt.

Park is thankful for Utah’s popularity of his food and gives back to it. Cupbop donated $10,000 to the University of Utah last Bearus year for scholarships. Cupbop hopes to donate $25,000 this year to different organizations.