Thirteen years after two neighbors took a leap of faith and launched District Taco as a single food cart, the popular Yucatán-style Mexican restaurant chain is offering its successful casual dining concept for franchising nationwide and recently signed its first multi-unit franchisee.
From their humble, yet passionate, beginnings, founders Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace have grown District Taco into a fast casual favorite with fourteen locations and more than 300 employees throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The company recently sold their ten millionth taco and saw record sales in their robust catering business.
Based on a comprehensive five-year plan that will strategically open one area of the country at a time, District Taco plans to first expand in the Mid-Atlantic spanning from New York to South Carolina and west to Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This approach will ensure that the franchisee support infrastructure will keep pace with the company’s expansion priorities in select high-growth markets. Additional development areas will be considered based on operator expertise.
“District Taco’s focus is on multi-unit and multi-brand franchise restaurant operator groups who want to serve a unique style of fresh, authentic Mexican food, are committed to the highest quality customer service standards, and have the vision to grow with an emerging leader in the fast casual industry,” says Tina Gantz, District Taco’s Vice President of Franchise Development. “We offer turnkey training and restaurant opening programs, innovative marketing and technology platforms, a highly competitive investment model, and impressive AUVs.
Tested in urban and suburban markets and with several different floor plans, the award-winning customer-centric Mexican restaurant chain has spent the last two years streamlining operations to create an ideal franchise system that is poised for rapid and efficient expansion. The company invested heavily in hiring a top-tier franchise support team and creating an end-to-end technology platform for efficiencies and insights for each restaurant. This includes a native app and in-store kiosks to maximize ordering efficiencies and reduce staff costs.
“District Taco’s franchise opportunity is incredibly unique because of our signature flavors inspired by our co-founder’s family recipes from Yucatán, award-winning technological innovations, and a strong management team with decades of restaurant operations and multi-unit franchise experience,” adds Gantz. “Strategically franchising this successful business model will allow us to further build our brand and grow our fast casual restaurant enterprise.”
Unlike other Mexican restaurant chains, District Taco’s unique cuisine has introduced many Americans to the Caribbean-influenced flavors of Mexico’s southeastern peninsula. Chiles and tomatoes are roasted on the premises, grilled meats are first marinated with a secret combination of citrus and spices that are indigenous to the Yucatán region, and chips and salsa are made fresh daily. Produce is sourced from local farmers where possible, and the company serves only cage-free brown eggs in their breakfast burritos and sustainably fished Alaskan Pollock in their fish tacos. The menu is completely customizable and boasts gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, offering Beyond Meat’s plant-based, meat, soy and gluten-free protein alternative, under the brand, ItzaTM.
Says Melanie Koch, District Taco’s Director of Marketing, “We have built significant equity in the District Taco brand on the East Coast. Now, we are ready to introduce the rest of the country to our innovative concept and signature flavors, one region at a time.” She adds, “Because our team is laser focused on finding new and more effective ways to attract and engage customers, the traditional franchise advertising fund is what we call the ‘Innovation Fund.’ It allows franchisees to contribute to more than just the cost of shared ads and local store marketing. They will also contribute to creating loyal District Taco fans through strategic and dynamic approaches, outside traditional marketing channels.”