But there are opportunities, like approaching landlords and asking for dedicated pickup order spots. By any stretch, Fajita Pete’s growth has led to more access in terms of money and product. Mora says this prepares the brand for the next phase, which he thinks is all about convenience.
He tells people, “We sell fajitas with a side of convenience.”
“With regards to the front of the house, most people would come into the store once, and we would joke with them, ‘we hope we never see you again,’” Mora says. “Because really, what we're trying to do is deliver to your house.”
“… So I think how we play on that is going to be key—keeping the interaction genuine and personal in that little window,” he continues. "… Developing those relationships is going to be through technology now. Through our loyalty program—we’re definitely pushing that. Online ordering and contactless payments—that’s what we’ve always been doing, but now, they’re not just a convenience, they’re a necessity.”
Industry experts are also expecting a favorable real estate market in the future considering all of the restaurants that are closing due to the overwhelming effects of COVID.
Mora agrees with part of this sentiment. He sees an opportunity to save entry costs, such as saving $50,000 to $75,000 on equipment. The tricky part is, the spaces that are desirable aren’t necessarily open because they were already good locations.
But overall, there’s optimism about the market. Because Fajita Pete’s doesn’t occupy much space, the brand is engaging landlords and chopping up bigger restaurants. The company carves part of the kitchen so landlords can have another rentable space next to it.
“Let’s say [landlords] have a strip center already under construction before COVID,” says Mora, visualizing a favorable scenario. “They probably had a lot of people cancel those leases or get out—just payout to get out of that lease. So we are seeing favorable terms in centers that are under construction, so they can get us at least maybe more allowance dollars for the build out. So I think that there is opportunity.”
Mora says his goal for Fajita Pete’s has always been to reach 100 stores. But with potential franchisees drawn to the high ticket average, simple menu, and small footprint, the CEO believes he may soon have to set bigger benchmarks.
“I just think we’re going to get to that number a lot quicker than I thought we would,” Mora says. “It might be a low number for us.”