Grammy Award-winning rapper 2 Chainz is ready to expand his Esco eatery empire with Atlanta entrepreneur Mychel “Snoop” Dillard. The pair recently settled their two-year legal battle with the estate of late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, resolving a $10 million trademark lawsuit for a reported $15,000. And now, the brand signed on its first franchisee, Jessica Shinholster, who is opening a new location in Columbus, Ohio.
“[Snoop’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,” 2 Chainz told Franchise Times. “So that merged with her passion and mine and made me very comfortable in this space going on six years now.”
But 2 Chainz, née Tauheed K. Epps, wanted to make it clear that Esco was not just your average Atlanta restaurant, though. “It’s more lounge with great food and great atmosphere,” the artist said. “Of course, we have the best drinks in town. We also have hookahs that attract pretty women, which attract playa guys.”
Since the initial meeting between he and Dillard in 2016, two Esco locations have been established, along with upcoming the Columbus, OH spot. And two more places are scheduled in the near future, according to the company website: one in Memphis, TN and another in Chicago, IL.
Dillard appeared on an October 2021 episode of the business podcast Inside the Vault with Ash Cash, where she talked about some of the difficulties she faced as a teenage mother as well as a Black lesbian entrepreneur. In 2016, Dillard was in Memphis after being extradited to stand trial there. (The charges were eventually dropped.)
“I immediately come to Atlanta, and I met with 2 Chainz two days after that,” she told Ash Cash. “Right inside the Hookah Hideaway (which Dillard also owns). I’ll never forget the night before I met with him, I was so nervous. And not because I’m star struck or anything like that, but I knew the effect that this partnership could have on my life and my success.”
According to Dillard, 2 Chainz sat with her in the 800-ft-sq spot, looked around and said, “‘If you could do these numbers in this spot, ain’t no telling what you can do in something larger!” And that’s how Esco was born.