Rapper 2 Chainz is expanding his successful restaurant and lounge business into a franchise in Atlanta.
Esco Restaurant & Tapas is the co-creation of 2 Chainz, whose net worth is $12 million, and Mychel “Snoop” Dillard, according to Franchise Times.
The Esco Restaurant & Tapas business has rapidly grown in three Atlanta locations since its opening in 2016. The brand’s first franchisee, Jessica Shinholster, will open a location in Columbus, Ohio. Franchises in Dallas, Texas, and Memphis, Tennessee, are also in the works.
“When we created Escobar Restaurant and Tapas, we wanted to create a beautiful bar, elegant lounging, and a menu featuring a choice wine and champagne selection, innovative cocktails, craft beers and undoubtedly the most desired tapas and entrees,” Dillard told FSR Magazine. “We are looking for franchisees who can take this concept and branding nationwide.”
Anyone wanting to open an Esco franchise must have $150,000 liquid capital, provide two years of tax returns and three months of bank statements, and have a FICO credit score of 680.
Although the rapper is well-accomplished – he graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Alabama State University on a scholarship and played on its basketball team, and won a Grammy in 2017 – he credits his partner for introducing him to the contemporary luxury dining business.
“She’s one of the people that really made my transition into this hospitality space easier because originally my introduction to the space was real estate. I own properties and dirt and stuff like that,” he said. “So that merged with her passion and mine and made me very comfortable in this space going on six years now.”
Dillard, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, started out as a financial adviser and real estate investor. She eventually went into hospitality, opening her first lounge in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 24. When she moved to Atlanta to operate the Hookah Hideaway, she met 2 Chainz, who is now a backer of Dillard Hospitality Group, a hospitality and tourism company founded by Dillard and based in Atlanta.
Besides its food, Esco Restaurant & Tapas, which had been originally called Escobar Restaurant, became infamous when the family of Columbian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar sued for $10 million in damages in 2020, stating that the restaurant violated federal law through the unauthorized commercial use of the Escobar name and likeness. 2 Chainz and Dillard rebranded the restaurant as Esco. They also paid Escobar Inc. $15,000.
The restaurant specializes in mixed American seafood and soul food, and serves an array of beer, wine and cocktails. The location also features a designated area for hookah customers and reservations for bottle service.