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In 2014, Steve Chu, Ephrem Abebe, and Nikhil Yesupriya purchased a hotdog cart to start Ekiben, an Asian fusion food stand at a local farmers market. Since then, it has grown to occupy brick-and-mortar spaces in Fell’s Point and Hampden, two of Baltimore City’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It has also won many awards. In 2017, Travel & Leisure named Ekiben the best place to get a sandwich in Maryland. In 2018, Eater nominated Chu and Abebe as semifinalists for its Young Gun Awards. In 2018, Starchefs named Chu a Rising Star in the DC-Chesapeake region.

Despite the fanfare, Ekiben remains a brand with a big social conscience. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it donated sandwiches to neighboring hospitals and set up shops in community centers throughout the city to distribute its steamed buns.

Ekiben also attempts to bridge the socioeconomic disparity in a city deeply divided along economic and racial lines. The Baltimore-based company makes creative, high-quality food and pairs it with world-class service and delivers it in a package that people from all walks of life can afford.

Ekiben attributes its success to following one recipe very closely: Create a space for anyone, from any demographic, to try something different.

Company Information

HQ Location
Business Leader(s)
Steve Chu, Co-Founder and Ephrem Abebe, Co-Founder
2019 Revenue$1,957,658
Four-Year Revenue Growth (%)1836.55%
Four-Year Jobs Created50