Restaurant chain Abuelo’s continues expanding its presence throughout the nation with recently announced plans to open two additional restaurants this year, as well as a second Florida location in early 2008.

The Lubbock, Texas-based concept currently has 38 locations in 15 states. This year’s expansion will introduce the concept to Chattanooga, Tenn. and Chesapeake, Va., with openings planned in late 2007. Abuelo’s currently has locations in both Knoxville and Bartlett, Tenn., and in Roanoke, Va. During the first part of 2008, Abuelo’s plans to reenter the Florida market with an opening in Kissimmee. The company recently opened its first Florida restaurant in Lakeland in March.

“We believe there are terrific opportunities to continue to grow our concept, both in Tennessee and Virginia where we already have a strong presence, and in our emerging Florida markets,” said Bob Lin, president of Food Concepts International, Abuelo’s parent company. “Our focus over the next few years will be on expanding our chain with quality sites and quality operators. We look forward to bringing Abuelo’s unique flavors of Mexico to new markets throughout the nation.”

Offering a Mexican-influenced menu, Abuelo’s restaurants typically have 7,700 square feet, with an elegant interior designed after classical Mexican themes with such elements as sky-painted ceilings, imported stonework and statues, and hand-painted murals depicting the history of Mexico. The food reflects the creativity and unique flavors of coastal and interior Mexico.