Colin Fukunaga is a restaurateur who didn’t like the corporate ‘bottom-line’ drive he found working for others at various restaurant jobs over the years. They “squeezed the creativity out of the restaurant business,” he explains, “and hurt the people that should have been inspired: the employees and guests.” He dreamed of creating a better, more authentic and fun dining experience.
This acknowledgment lit an entrepreneurial spark for Colin. He learned about a unique food truck idea in Los Angeles (where food trucks began) and adapted the idea with his own cultural twist with plans to launch in Las Vegas.
Colin was introduced to SCORE after drafting a business plan and visiting the Small Business Administration (SBA). He laughs when he looks back at the early days (before food trucks were popular) when he struggled to get his business off the ground or even explain the concept he had in mind. His SCORE advisor, Robert Cushman, encouraged Colin to think deeply about how to describe what he wanted to offer. “I’ve thought about that honest advice ever since,” he explains. “To this day when people ask me how I grew from just one food truck to multiple locations I say it is because I can explain what I do and I believe in it: ’We offer all-American burgers with a Japanese twist.’”
Fukuburger was the first food truck in the area back in 2008, so it got a ton of free press – including the cover of Las Vegas Weekly. From there, Colin kept growing and opened his first Fukuburger standalone restaurant in Chinatown. When the Las Vegas Raiders football team moved to the area and built a stadium in 2019, they asked him to open a restaurant there, too. Fukuburger has been a massive success ever since.
“The restaurant business is a crazy ride,” Colin says. Still, he is glad he’s got the drive, support and creativity to thrive. It’s no surprise that “Fuku” means luck and good fortune in Japanese.