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How Tin Drum Asian Kitchen Carved Out a Lucrative Niche in the $250 Billion Fast-Casual Segment

With continued menu innovation, multiple revenue streams and a differentiated consumer offering, Tin Drum offers franchisees a pandemic-resistant opportunity to tap into an unmet demand in markets across the country.

Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, the authentic pan-Asian restaurant concept offering upscale fare at a fast-casual price point, has become a fan-favorite among foodies in Atlanta. With an expansive menu and a differentiated consumer offering, Tin Drum has developed an avid local fan base, winning Best of Atlanta for five years straight. Now, with the goal of reaching 100 units over the next five years, the team is looking for qualified franchisees who are eager to leverage a pandemic-resistant consumer demand and an innovative menu to replicate the brand’s local success in new markets. 

“The product is originally what drew us to Tin Drum — which is the same reason our customers are drawn to us and return time and time again,” said Amisha Popatiya, CMO and partner. “Now, we are looking for savvy entrepreneurs who are interested in helping us bring this beloved offering to new communities and hungry customers across the country.”

How Tim Drum Defined Its Unique and Locally Beloved Concept

Nearly two decades ago, Tin Drum Asian Kitchen was founded by Hong Kong-native Steven Chan on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology with the goal of capturing the energy and atmosphere of the streets of Asia. Chan achieved this goal with the creation of an eclectic menu featuring wide-ranging flavors, fresh-to-order dishes and customizable spice levels, as well as a vibrant atmosphere that produced an authentic Pan-Asian food experience for guests by incorporating the decor of Hong Kong’s curbside cafes. 

Tin Drum grew to 10 locations and quickly established itself as one of the most popular chains in Georgia. Fueled by this local success, Tin Drum launched its franchise opportunity in 2010 and began looking for qualified franchisees to help bring the concept to new communities across the country. 

Altaf Popatiya, Tin Drum’s COO and partner, and his wife Amisha, CMO and partner, for example, originally joined the brand as store owners. Amisha says she and Altaf were so inspired by their experience as franchisees with the brand that they decided to invest in the company and join the Tin Drum’s corporate team in 2018 to build out the franchise opportunity and help new entrepreneurs follow their same path to success. 

“What we found with Tin Drum was without a doubt one of the best opportunities available in the franchise industry, but we learned that people just weren’t aware of it,” said Amisha. “We had a great foundation with an excellent product and a proven operational model, and we seized the opportunity to turn that into the thriving franchise we knew it should be.”

How the Brand Prioritizes Continued Menu Innovation

After joining the leadership team, the Popatiyas say they embarked on a “franchise refresh,” which included streamlining the business model, investing in new technology and more. On the consumer side, a big part of that mission was to continue the brand’s tradition of menu innovation. The duo helped Tim Drum launch a number of new, popular menu offerings, including an array of small plates and Asian fried chicken sandwiches. 

“We expanded the menu from 12 bowl options to a range of exciting Asian dishes, each packed with the authentic flavors and fresh ingredients Tin Drum is known for,” Amisha said. “Those menu upgrades have reinvigorated the buzz around Tin Drum, helping our franchisees grow rapidly and pursue multiple units. We are proud of our consistent menu innovation.”

And that innovation has continued to this day. In 2021, after completing an in-depth market research project, Tin Drum rolled out a new beverage program, giving franchisees access to an additional revenue stream without having to add space in the store. Most notably, the beverage program features bubble tea, which is now on track to contribute nearly 20% in annual sales despite being available at just six of Tin Drum's 10 locations. Overall, since rehauling the Tin Drum franchise opportunity, the Popatiyas have helped the brand nearly double its systemwide sales.

“We looked very carefully at what options we had to increase top-line sales for our store owners, and beverages, particularly bubble tea, emerged as the most profitable option,” Amisha said. “That exemplifies just how careful and deliberate we are in our efforts to make our stores more profitable for owners. Our beverage program has been very well-received by our customers, with our bubble tea being the star."

How Tin Drum Offers a Pandemic-Resistant Business Opportunity to Franchisees

Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way the restaurant industry operates, and Amisha says Tin Drum’s ability to thrive over the past two years suggests a bright future ahead. 

“So many businesses in every sector struggled or failed during COVID, and it was especially hard for restaurants,” said Amisha. “The only way to make it through was to have tremendous customer loyalty and a finely tuned operational model that could withstand the economic pressure. We already knew that’s what we had with Tin Drum; COVID proved it to the world.”

Tin Drum is looking to bring its award-winning menu and proven business model to new markets, focusing on development in cities like Dallas and Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Best of all, Amisha notes there are no other franchises in the U.S. right now that offer upscale, affordable pan-Asian food and boba teas in the surging fast-casual market, meaning franchisees all over the country can benefit from an untapped consumer demand in their community. 

“We are looking for people who are savvy enough to see the full value of what Tin Drum has to offer, who have the drive to make the most of the opportunity, and who share our commitment to being pillars of our communities,” Altaf said. “We know how important community is to a restaurant, so we give our owners the ability to go into any market and really behave as a local brand, according to the needs and preferences of their community, but with the full support of a killer corporate team behind them. That’s a rare and valuable opportunity in franchising or any industry.”

The total cost to invest in a Tin Drum Asian Kitchen ranges from $351,800 to $563,250. For more information on franchising with the brand, please visit