Texas-based Fuzzy's Taco Shop, the award-winning, fast-casual Baja-style Mexican restaurant franchise famous for its addictive Baja soft tacos and all-day breakfast, announced four new multiunit development agreements that will bring the "Fresh, Fast, Fun" restaurant concept to Florida this summer. The agreements call for opening more than 20 new Fuzzy's Taco Shops in the Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando, and Fort Myers areas over the next six years. Today, there are 79 Fuzzy's Taco Shops in nine states: Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, and Nebraska.
"Florida is ripe and ready to embrace our Baja-style Tex-Mex cuisine that's freshly made from scratch and served with fun frozen drinks or ice-cold beer at an affordable price in a casual atmosphere," says Fuzzy's Taco Shop's senior vice president of franchise Paul Rickels. "We are thrilled to officially announce these four new franchise owners, who will bring more than 20 Fuzzy's Taco Shops to Florida." Fuzzy's Taco Shop started awarding franchise agreements in 2008 and today has 72 franchise locations along with seven company-owned restaurants.
The first Fuzzy's Taco Shop in the Sunshine State will be in Manatee County, Florida, and is expected to be open by July of this year. New franchisee David Hunt, a former director of operations for the restaurant chain Applebees, expects to open two or three more locations in the Sarasota County-Manatee County in 2016. Hunt says he opted to join the Fuzzy's Taco Shop franchise because he loves the "high quality, made-from-scratch Baja-influenced food," and sees a "huge opportunity for the brand in Florida." Hunt adds, "There's just not many quality, fast-casual Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants in this part of Florida that serve as flavorful cuisine along with an all-day full bar and/or all-day breakfast, so we expect to do very well here."
Expansion into the Tampa, Florida, market will be led by a family-run franchisee. The husband, wife, and brother team have returned to their hometown of Tampa to open their first Fuzzy's Taco Shop before the end of this year. Ian and Adam Lieberman, with Adam's wife J-Ray, vetted more than 100 concepts before deciding that Fuzzy's Taco Shop was the right fit for Tampa Bay. "Since we are building a business that we plan to operate as a family, we loved that Fuzzy's Taco Shop was a very family-oriented concept," Ian Lieberman says. "Everyone from the corporate office folks to the other franchisees made us feel as if we were truly joining the Fuzzy’s family. Everyone has been so welcoming, and so passionate about building the brand." The Liebermans expect to open at least five Fuzzy's Taco Shops in the Tampa Bay area over the next six years.
Austin, Texas, natives Catherine and Christopher Franklin were awarded a Fuzzy's Taco Shop franchise that allows them to open a minimum of five restaurants in the Orlando, Florida, area over the next five years. With the goal of opening their first location by this September, they are actively looking at a couple of locations that allow a liquor license and 3,500 square feet plus room for patio. "We're close to deciding on our first location, and are super excited about joining the Orlando restaurant community," Christopher Franklin says, "We know, without a doubt, that everyone in the Orlando area will love Fuzzy's Taco Shops as much as the rest of the country does."
Entrepreneur and independent restaurant owner John Browder and his wife Kathy just signed a Fuzzy's Taco Shop franchise agreement this month, and expect to open two locations in the Fort Myers area before the end of this year. The Browders own and run an independent full-service restaurant north of Dallas, Texas, and decided to retire in Florida with their first-ever franchise operation. "We've learned how difficult it can sometimes be to run an independent restaurant. Opening and running multiple Fuzzy's Taco Shops will be so much easier, and less costly," John Browder says. "The Fuzzy's franchise group supplies the winning formula that works, including store plans and design, ramp-up support and training, as well as … access to purchasing discounts that we would've never been able to obtain on our own.
"Plus, with all the other new locations opening throughout Florida, there will be almost instant name recognition. We wanted to get in on the 'ground floor,' because we honestly believe that Fuzzy's Taco Shop will quickly become a nationwide recognized brand," Browder adds.
Each new Florida location will require 25–30 employees. Prospective employees are encouraged to download an application from fuzzystacoshop.com, and take it into their local Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, and speak with a member of the management team.
With an average check of $11–$12, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is known for its casual fun ambiance and generous helpings of uniquely flavorful Baja-style Mexican fare. Fuzzy's menu features its original take on the Baja taco, which is often referred to as “addictive” thanks to the garlic sauce and feta cheese that makes it so distinctive. The restaurants also serve a wide array of handmade enchiladas, jumbo salads, nachos, burritos, and its signature white queso and chips, as well as a children's menu, and catering options. Fuzzy’s Taco Shops are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and most locations offer a generous selection of beer, wine, margaritas, and other specialty cocktails, as well as free Wi-Fi and dog-friendly patios. Diners can earn discounts and free menu items via the Fuzzy's Taco Shop "Friends with Benefits" mobile app, available for download on Google Play or via iTunes.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop was recently named to website and mobile app Urbanspoon's annual list of "Top American Eateries for Cheap Eats,” and was among the 12 quick-service and fast-casual brands named Best Franchise Deals by QSR Magazine in the publication's fifth-annual report.