Taco Bueno isn’t just expanding with new restaurants. The Tex-Mex chain has also moved to a new headquarters to accommodate a growing corporate staff.

Bueno moved into its former 24,000-square-foot headquarters at 1605 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, Ste. 800, in Farmers Branch in 2007. But after experiencing 20 percent corporate staff growth this year, it relocated to another office in February at 300 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Ste. 800, in Irving.

The new 24,000-square-foot space, which is on one continuous floor, houses Taco Bueno’s 83 corporate employees and supports the chain’s 3,000 employees, who range from regional managers to restaurant workers. While it is the same size as the brand’s previous headquarters, the layout provides more open working space, allowing for more collaboration, the company said.

CEO Mike Roper attributes the brand’s worker growth to a burgeoning restaurant footprint and adding staff to aid franchise growth. Today, Bueno has 183 units that earned more than $207 million in sales last year. This year, it will tack on around 13 corporate and franchised stores.

“We’re cranking up and getting our staff in place to sustain the growth that we’re going to see,” Roper added.

The space also gives room for additional employee growth, though Taco Bueno does not have a set number of workers it plans to add.

In addition to its headquarters expansion, Taco Bueno is growing its restaurant footprint. The brand is slated to open between eight to 10 corporate stores and sell 50 to 75 franchise agreements per year over the next five years.

This year, the brand is forecasting it will open seven company-owned units and six franchises. Two corporate restaurants have already opened in Flower Mound and El Reno, Oklahoma.

For now, Bueno’s growth will be focused on its seven core states: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Colorado. The company is currently looking for franchisees to sign multi-unit agreements to open stores in those markets.

“(Franchisees) have to be well-funded and they have to have restaurant experience,” Roper added. “And if they don’t have restaurant experience, they have to have a plan in place to put someone in the business that has the experience.”

Taco Bueno’s growth is being fueled primarily by a private equity investment by TPG Growth, which bought the newly-relocated chain in December 2015.

“The Mexican category is an interesting one, given attractive tailwinds as consumer tastes are evolving toward Mexican foods and foods that have been considered ‘ethnic,’” said Sanjay Banker, a partner at TPG Growth leading the firm’s retail investing. “What’s particularly appealing about Bueno is that the consumer enthusiasm for the brand was really powerful. We thought if we could combine that with a new level of energy and support of the business, it could be a compelling investment.”

Since the acquisition, TPG has helped enhance Taco Bueno’s franchise capabilities with new executives and building a franchising staff at the company’s headquarters. The firm has also bankrolled more than $1 million in training, upgrading existing facilities, upping maintenance and equipment budgets and improving Wi-Fi and credit card terminals.

“When TPG came on board, it became time to add resources and expand,” Roper added. “They’re a different type of private equity company. Part of their thing is they bring resources to bear when you need them and get involved in the business. They’re letting us run the business, but they’re heavily involved as well.”

Presented by the Dallas Business Journal – June 9, 2017

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