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Umami Burger Owner Wants To Bring 150 Locations To The World

Photo courtesy of Umami Burger on Facebook
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Umami Burger is the homegrown business success story that everyone loves to hear. What started out as a small shop on La Brea Avenue has grown into a rapidly-expanding international business. There are currently 20 Umami Burgers around California, plus locations in New York and Florida. The New York location was so successful in its opening that there were lines around the block, and someone even tried to create a cronut/Umami burger hybrid. Nightlife impresario Sam Nazarian of SBE caught on and invested in the company a few years back, too.

The L.A. Times discusses the company's founder and owner Adam Fleischman's big plans for expanding his empire:

How big could Umami grow? Fleischman's five-year plan is to open 150 locations worldwide. The same goes for 800 Degrees, the build-your-own-pizza restaurant concept he helped create. 800 Degrees is in Westwood and at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, with locations on the way in Santa Monica, downtown L.A. and Las Vegas.

In addition to Umami Burger and800 Degrees, Fleischman also has his hands in several other food and beverage businesses, including an invite-only food/music/art hybrid pop-up series called Truffl. Other projects in the works that weren't mentioned include therevamped Papoo's Hot Dog Show in Burbank and an international BBQ jointwith Robbie Richter of New York barbecue destinations Hill Country and Fatty ‘Cue. Fleischman is working on a restaurant called Smoke.oil.salt in the Fairfax District in Evan Klieman's former Angeli Caffe space slated to open soon.But the road to global expansion has had some bumps along the way, which the Times glossed over in its profile of the chain's big plans.

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Not all his concepts have been successful; the mega-deli dining hall UMAMIcatessen that opened on Broadway in Downtown L.A. -- which included a coffee shop, donut shop, and a charcuterie station run by SF's celeb chef Chris Cosentino -- simply didn't draw in enough customers to support the multi-concept space, and was also looked over in the Times' profile. The space has since been rebranded as a Umami Broadway, going back to the chain's roots of selling burgers fries, and beer and capitalizing on that age-old idea of the fifth taste.

Fleischman actually trademarked the word "umami," attempting to own the savory flavor that's found in miso, soy sauce, Parmesan, anchovy, cured meats, fish flakes. However, when the company filed a case against Umami Mia Pizzeria in Austin, the court pushed back on the trademark claim: "Umami, along with sweet, or sour, or bitter, or salty, are common, defined words found in almost every modern, English-language dictionary. One company cannot own a monopoly on these words."