University of Minnesota alumni Korra Ektanitphong and Daniel Ringgenberg faced a persistent problem in their time as students on campus — where do we eat?
Ektanitphong, 29, always wanted Asian food and Ringgenberg, 25, often wanted Chipotle, so they decided to launch a business venture that married both of their culinary interests.
On April 20, Burrigato opened at 314 15th Ave. SE in Dinkytown. The restaurant takes dishes from Thailand, Japan and Korea and puts them into a burrito or bowl in under five minutes.
“You usually have to sit down [for Asian food]. It’s a full 30-minute to an hour experience,” Ektanitphong said. “We really wanted to develop a concept that is authentic Asian food that is fast and convenient.”
The restaurant completed a soft launch April 20 and Ektanitphong — a co-owner and founder along with Ringgenberg — said there would be a bigger opening in September when the new school year starts.
Burrigato has a total of four employees, including Ektanitphong and Ringgenberg. He said the restaurant has averaged almost 100 customers a day since it opened.
“We did not do any real marketing of any sort,” Ringgenberg said. “We’re just relying on students and word of mouth.”
The restaurant only has five dishes as Ringgenberg said they wanted to keep the menu small because Asian restaurants often have too many choices. There are dishes with pork, beef or chicken and a vegetarian option.
Both founders attended the University and left in 2013. Now dating and living together, the two met in a Japanese class they took in 2010.
After Chilly Billy’s Frozen Yogurt closed in October 2015, Ringgenberg said the two secured the lease for the storefront and signed it in November 2016. Construction finished in April and the opening came shortly after.
To Ektanitphong and Ringgenberg, it was important to have authentic Asian food at the restaurant. Ektanitphong is from Thailand and has been cooking for 20 years.
“We really want to focus on an authentic experience even though we’re doing a fusion,” Ektaniphong said. “All the dishes we serve, we expect you’d be able to find the same dishes of the same taste in their respective countries.”
Even though they see Burrigato as a fusion restaurant, Ringgenberg said the only fusion they do is packaging the food into a burrito format.
The Himalayan, located just a block away from Burrigato, is a similar style restaurant that wraps Nepalese food in naan bread.
“Our food, we’re hoping, sets ourselves apart from other burritos or wraps places,” Ektanitphong said. “The burrito thing is not just what we’re about. We’re also about authentic Asian cuisine from Thailand, Japan and Korea.”
Burrigato doesn’t currently employ any students, but Ektanitphong said they plan to hire more for the restaurant’s grand opening in September.