From the pages of Restaurant Franchising
Taking Authentic Mexican Food to the Global Market

America’s Taco Shop is about heritage. Founder America Corrales-Bortin, the heart and soul behind the restaurant, grew up in Culiacán, Sinaloa in Mexico, watching her mother prepare the dishes that became the recipes for America’s Taco Shop.

“She spent most of her childhood by her mother’s side prepping authentic meals for her large family,” says Terry Bortin, brand president and co-founder of America’s Taco Shop. “Her mother passed away when America was just 14, and she moved to the U.S. to live with an older brother, bringing her mother’s recipes with her. When we met and married, I’d already been in the restaurant industry for 16 years. We shared a passion for the authentic Mexican food America prepared. After years of feeding family and friends, we decided to open a taco shop in 2008.”

That first restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona quickly became an award-winning favorite of local foodies. The pair opened a second shop, then a third. “In 2011, we reached an agreement with Kahala, one of the world’s largest franchisors with stores in more than 20 countries, to develop the brand worldwide,” Bortin says.

“The bottom line with America’s Taco Shop is all about food and authentic recipes. We use only the freshest ingredients; everything is chopped, cooked, and created fresh every single day. Once you try traditional Mexican food the way it’s served in Mexico, you will appreciate the difference from the Mexican restaurants typically found in the U.S. America’s food is the real deal,” Bortin says. The Bortins remain fanatical about the recipes remaining authentic.

America’s Taco Shop covers all dayparts. To stay authentic, the shops serve traditional Mexican Coke, made with real sugar and served in bottles, only Mexican beers, and one brand of tequila. As for the food, “Even though the flavors are complex, the menu is simple,” Bortin says. “We are known for our carne asada, al pastor (pork), and our chicken. With all our dishes, we use our fresh salsas and other ingredients to create all kinds of different flavor profiles for our tacos, burritos, quesadillas, vampiros, and so on.”

“The bottom line with America’s Taco Shop is all about food and authentic recipes.” —Terry Bortin, President and Co-founder

To take a local concept and go global presents challenges, but Kahala has partners and distributors all over the world. “When it comes to proprietary products, like the ones that make up America’s Taco Shop, the relationships and infrastructure are already there,” Bortin says. “It’s just a matter of getting the food to where it needs to be.” Markets will develop where the best opportunities and best franchisees present themselves.

America’s Taco Shop wants franchise candidates who value authenticity, one of the brand’s core values, and who appreciate the tradition of the brand. “Our customers are foodies, and our franchisees will be foodies,” Bortin says.

Bortin’s restaurant experience has already come into play with training. “We have a corporate-owned America’s Taco Shop right next to headquarters here in Scottsdale, Arizona. There is classroom training and kitchen training, and both America and I are very involved with the program,” Bortin says. The Bortins will remain integral to the growth of the brand.

Baseline financials for prospective franchisees are a net worth of approximately $375,000 and liquidity of approximately $90,000. “All opportunities are open,” Bortin says, “from standalone stores to kiosks and everything in between.” This is a brand that can be adapted to a variety of footprints. “America and I like converting old homes in rezoned areas into America’s Taco Shops, and franchisees may do the same. It’s like inviting guests into our house for dinner,” Bortin says.

“Wherever we serve our food, people go crazy for it. America’s Taco Shop is putting out authentic and crave-able food.” And Kahala, together with the founders of America’s Taco Shop, is ready to share that food with the world.

For more information about franchising opportunities with America’s Taco Shop, visit