From the pages of Restaurant Franchising
New Look, New Markets

It’s the food that makes Del Taco stand out from the crowd. Del Taco serves made-to-order tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more, including all-American favorites such as burgers and fries. All menu items are made to order using fresh ingredients, such as cheddar cheese grated fresh daily, hand-made salsa, beans slow-cooked from scratch, and marinated chicken grilled fresh every hour. “We have a legacy of well-established value: great food at a great price,” says Paul Murphy, CEO at Del Taco.

Recently, Del Taco introduced a new logo and a new store prototype, updating its look with new colors and a new store design to create a more memorable customer experience. “We will maintain our value heritage while adding emphasis to the quality, freshness, and great care we put into our food preparation every day. At some new restaurants, we will also be testing a salsa bar with new flavors, as well as the Del Taco signature sauces, Del Inferno, Del Scorcho, and Mild, that our customers love,” Murphy says. The first new prototype locations opened in late 2010 and 2011 in Texas, Southern California, and Salt Lake City.

The company partnered with brand strategy and retail design firm, Tesser Inc., to bring the brand story to life at the restaurants. Brand fans were engaged through online surveys and focus groups to gather opinions about the new logo, the new design elements, and the new company color palette. “Our fans are at the heart of the brand, so it was important for us to engage this community and integrate them into the process for the new logo and new prototype,” Murphy says.

The new design is part of the company’s expansion plans. Del Taco offers a menu of venues that expand the chain’s flexibility to build the right facility for the right investment in a challenging real estate environment. New venues include non-traditional sites, such as end-caps with drive-thru windows, as well as conversions of existing buildings.

Franchisees play a key role in helping to bring Del Taco’s great food and experience to more people in more markets than ever before.

Site selection is critical. For new restaurants, both company- and franchise-owned, Del Taco employs sophisticated site selection metrics. “We evaluate indicators of market strength, such as demographics, psychographics, traffic patterns, competitive landscape, and the overall depth and quality of the trade area. This information is provided to experienced real estate professionals who work with the company and franchisees in identifying potential locations,” Murphy says.

Del Taco continues to expand operating territories in the West and Southeast. Texas and Georgia are key growth markets in 2012, with new store development in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Atlanta.

Franchisees are helping Del Taco fuel growth. “We are working with franchise groups in Dallas and Houston who are partnering with us to expand the brand,” he says.

“We are looking for passionate, outgoing people excited to bring a strong brand to their markets. We strive to set the standard for excellence with memorable, delightful customer service, and our franchise partners are a big part of that.”

Del Taco also looks for previous restaurant experience in at least one of the partners in any investment group. Once approved, the new franchisee works with Del Taco to design the best development plan for the franchisee, the company, and the market.

To give franchisees the best start possible, Del Taco company support includes pre-opening training and ongoing daily support once the new store is open. “We provide a business advisor who helps each individual franchisee grow the business. That includes financials, operations, marketing, and more,” Murphy says.

For those who know Del Taco, the great tasting food is the center of a positive dining experience. Franchisees play a key role in helping to bring Del Taco’s great food and experience to more people in more markets than ever before.

For more information about franchising opportunities with Del Taco, visit