Taco John's Redesigns Units to Compete with Mexican QSRs, Fast-Casual Concepts

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Cheyenne,Wyoming-It's Taco Tuesday at Taco John's, and the customers line up seven or eight deep at the cash registers of the East Pershing Street restaurant, one of the quick-service chain's 410 outlets in 27 states. But it's not just the weekly promotion that is driving the day's lunchtime sales at this Cheyenne branch; it's also the dramatic new look of the store and its new menu items, such as shredded-beef quesadillas and grilled burritos.

Cheyenne-based Taco John's International Inc. is rolling out the store redesign and menu changes to all company-owned branches this year and encouraging franchisees to adopt them to compete more effectively against a growing crop of rival brands. Competition no longer is coming only from other Mexican-food fast feeders, Taco John's executives point out, but also from market incursions by such fast-casual concepts as Qdoba Mexican Grill, Chipotle and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill.

The Pershing Street unit was remodeled completely, from the drive-thru to the bathrooms. The outside has richer colors of red, gold and dark green and a brick facade. The inside has warmer hues of red and gold along with wood chairs, pendant lamps and vinyl flooring that resembles tile. The front counter is curved with a Corian top. Track lighting shines on graphic menu boards. Employees sport crisp, red polo shirts as they run food out to customers waiting at tables. The company-owned Pershing Street store, and a franchisee's unit in Pierre, South Dakota, have experienced double-digit increases in sales since they were remodeled last winter. -Nation's Restaurant News

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