Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill is thriving on the increased demand for healthy fast casual cuisine in the quick-service restaurant segment.

Integral in the franchise’s development strategy, Costa Vida signed five multiunit franchise agreements in 2014, totaling 41 new restaurant locations added to the pipeline, with the first already open in Atlanta. Currently a 68-unit system, Costa Vida has locations in 12 states primarily on the West Coast and three locations in Alberta, Canada. Divided among the recently signed agreements, Costa Vida will be opening new locations in Denver; Vancouver, Canada; Portland, Oregon; Atlanta; Tampa and Sarasota, Florida; and Northern California this year. Throughout the country, Costa Vida will have additional locations popping up in Utah, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, and Illinois this year, as well.

Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill made 2014 a banner year by implementing a secure franchise development strategy with a focus on growing through multiunit operators and area developers. With the hiring of director of franchise development, Terry Jennings, the Fresh Mexican Grill gained decades of experience in building a strong and cohesive brand through tactical and proven franchise development methods. Jennings’s calculated approach to grow steadily yet exponentially has proven to marry well with the vision of CEO Sean Collins and president Dave Rutter.

“Costa Vida is a brand that is devoted to promoting healthy lifestyle choices, offering customizable menu options featuring real food with natural and fresh ingredients that people recognize and can relate to. This has always been the cornerstone of our business and with recent shifts in consumer demand for that exact dining experience, we’re seeing increasing sales at our locations and increasing interest from investors looking to capitalize on the growing market,” Collins says. “The key to our success as we continue to gain popularity among consumers, especially in new markets, is to maintain consistency across the brand from the ground up. In order for that to remain, we have to be strategic and calculated in our franchise development process, thoroughly vetting candidates and opportunities to ensure we maintain brand integrity and cohesion as we become a more nationally recognized franchise.”

Following the opening of its first location in the state of Georgia last year, 2015 is poised to hold continued exponential development for Costa Vida. Opening locations in three new states including Florida, Illinois, and Oregon, Costa Vida will be able to call 15 states home.

“Our strategy for expansion in key high-growth markets is largely based on unit-level economics. By focusing our growth through an economic lens as opposed to a regional growth pattern, we’re able to capitalize on the key factors that will ultimately drive our business in a market,” Jennings says. “Since joining Costa Vida, I have witnessed the cult like following of consumers that crave not only the food, but the atmosphere, service, and brand identity. Maintaining this consistency for all of our customers will be crucial in building out a national brand. Prior to my joining the company though, the Costa Vida team already in place had spent the last few years laying a foundation capable of supporting the success of their business partners and restaurant growth across the country. We’ve already set the foundation, now we’re building.”

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