When you’re a quick-serve executive for a brand with decades of history, it can be hard to change with the times while retaining a connection with loyal, longtime customers. But, as in all things, evolution is necessary in the restaurant business, and a brand refresh that touches all aspects of a concept can propel growth. The key, the experts say, is striking a balance between old and new, and then tracking the progress.
The Meat & Potato Breakfast Burrito has developed a fan following at Taco John’s. The popularity of the morning entrée has helped make breakfast the fastest-growing daypart for the Mexican quick-service chain. On September 18, Taco John’s is hoping to grow that fan base when it offers a free breakfast burrito to anyone who walks into a restaurant and requests one.
“Tasting is believing. We can tell people we have the best breakfast burrito, but they’ll never know until they try one,” says Jeff Linville, CEO for Taco John’s. “
Taco John’s believes you can learn a lot by listening to your customers. After observing how people were ordering a dessert at the Mexican quick-service restaurant chain, Taco John’s realized it had an opportunity to take the feedback and turn it into a new menu item.
With an eye on the future and a nod to the past, Taco John’s is updating its brand. The Mexican quick-service restaurant chain has launched a new tagline, advertising campaign, and website urging customers to “Unwrap the Original.” Its goal is to make the Taco John’s brand more relevant for Millennials and new markets without alienating current guests.
Taco John’s is spicing up its morning menu. The quick-service restaurant added the Spicy Chorizo Breakfast Burrito to its menu.
“If you’re hungry for breakfast with a kick, the Spicy Chorizo Breakfast Burrito is for you,” says Bob Karisny, vice president for menu strategy and innovation at Taco John’s. “People want spicy foods at all times of the day, so we created a breakfast item containing plenty of it.”
Mexican quick-service chain Taco John’s selected Billie Jo Waara to be its new chief marketing officer. Waara has more than a decade of marketing experience, not only in the restaurant business but also in the tourism, banking, retail, and communications industries. At Taco John’s, Waara is focusing on growing brand awareness.
A new look and layout for Taco Jorn’s menuboards could translate into stronger sales for the chain. In test markets, the Mexican fast-casual concept recorded a 12 percent increase in the sale of EZ Combo meals.
“Our guests love the new visuals on our drive-thru and interior menuboards,” says Renée Middleton, vice president for marketing for Taco John's. “It really simplifies the menu, catches their eye, and brings more attention to the Taco John’s EZ Combos.”
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Taco John’s is teaming up with PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division for its latest menu item. The Mexican fast food chain is launching the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Burrito this week as a limited time offer.
"Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are extremely popular, and they offer a great, distinctive flavor. We decided the snack would be the perfect accent to our new spicy burrito,” says Bob Karisny, vice president for menu strategy and innovation at Taco John’s. “We couldn’t be happier with the combination. We think the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Burrito will perform very well.”
With constant pressure to churn out innovative menu items, some quick serves are protecting and marketing unique creations through trademarks, which, while tricky to obtain, have paid off handsomely for many owners and operators.
At Austin, Texas–based Schlotzsky’s, a trademarked sandwich known as The Original is the brand’s best-selling item.
“Our concept started with one sandwich, one size, in one shop, 43 years ago,” says Kelly Roddy, Schlotzsky’s president. “It is named and trademarked The Original, which really identifies it as that sandwich we started with.”