Three locations are co-branded between Blue Burro and The Buffalo Spot, with one opening in San Diego a few months ago. Flores says his franchise footprint is a mixture of operators wanting to scale one concept to 10-15 units, and some multi-unit owners of The Buffalo Spot showing interest in parallel expansion with Blue Burro.
Flores says his company has several franchise leads, but he will proceed cautiously with operators he brings onboard. He notes that restaurant experience isn’t mandatory; the more important factor is loving the brand and showing a willingness to follow processes, which aren’t that complicated. Locations only require 1,300-2,200 square feet for a kitchen and dining room and 15-20 employees on average.
The CEO believes future growth will be a 50/50 mix between new and existing franchisees. In terms of how development will be divided among the three concepts, the projection is 50 percent The Buffalo Spot, and 25 percent each for Blue Burro and Tacomasa.
The split between operator/company-run expansion will be 80/20.
“So in order for us to be diligent and able to support our franchisees, we've got to really understand the operation, from choosing the location, from opening the store, from the food costs, labor costs, you know all the systems,” Flores says. “So that's why we've been very, very successful. And our franchisees could attest to the support we give them is that we know what they're going through. So when they reach out to us and explain to us certain challenges, we know exactly what they're talking about. And we do take our franchisees feedback and ideas due to that because we understand.”
According to IBISWorld, a hub of industry market research, the U.S.’s Mexican restaurant segment is growing at a rate of 7 percent in 2022, and Flores is confident about the figures spiking in the next five years. Although the cuisine has been a staple for many years, the restaurateur says the category is surging because of the implementation of online ordering, third-party delivery, and other pieces of technology that have opened it to a broader, younger consumer base.
As to how Encinal Brands became a part of this massive trajectory after how things began in 2013, Flores has been asked many times in the past several years. The answer, similar to how he runs his restaurants, cuts to the chase—hard work, dedication, and remaining consistent. He holds himself and his entire team to those standards each day.
“That's just what I keep doing every day, and I love what I do,” Flores says. “I wouldn't be doing anything else. That's just really what it is.”