In total, 14 Pollo Tropical restaurants—nine in Atlanta and five in Florida—closed in 2018. Those stores contributed $15.8 million in restaurant sales while contributing roughly $5.2 million in restaurant level pre-tax operating losses. Nine underperforming Taco Cabana locations in Texas, which generated $9.5 million in restaurant sales, shuttered in 2018. Those locations generated $1.7 million in losses.
Both brands are expected to open three restaurants in 2019. In addition to new openings, Fiesta plans on remodeling 10–13 locations for each brand over the next year. The remodels will upgrade equipment to support catering and new menu lines while incorporating fresh technology, like self-service kiosks and portable POS tablets, to help improve efficiency within existing locations.
“We're identifying those restaurants that are the oldest, the ones that need the refreshing in the front of the house,” Stockinger said. “We've done a lot of work in the back of the house with the deferred maintenance, so the guests really didn't see that because we wanted to get started and restart a remodel program where you're going to start seeing some of that impact on the top line.”
Diving into delivery
In order to keep up with its competition, Fiesta took the plunge and rolled out delivery nationwide with DoorDash. Pollo Tropical delivery through DoorDash is available now at all 139 company-owned locations throughout the system. Taco Cabana delivery through DoorDash will be available at all 162 company-owned locations in the coming weeks.
“We can see the momentum building, and we are excited as to the potential positive impact on our business,” Fiesta’s chief operating officer Danny Meisenheimer said on the call.
In an effort to expand its off-premises presence, Fiesta relaunched catering programs at both Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana during the last quarter of 2018.
“The catering and the opportunities with off-premise consumption are truly just coming online … and we're seeing some really nice results from those efforts so far,” Meisenheimer said.
At Pollo Tropical, a dedicated team oversees the newly rebranded catering program and refined menu. Meisenheimer said the catering platform will continue transform in 2019 “to be even more competitive in the marketplace and to broaden the offering to appeal to different occasions and party sizes.”