Moe’s Southwest Grill, a leader in the fast-casual Mexican space, opened its 600th restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah this month. The milestone reflects the momentum the brand has built by signing several high-profile, multiunit franchise agreements nationwide, just 15 years after opening its first location in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The opening of our 600th restaurant is an achievement that was reached largely thanks to our dedicated franchisees and loyal guests across the country,” says Paul Damico, group president for FOCUS Brands. “As we continue to expand our footprint in coming years, our focus will remain on offering quality food and unique dining experiences.”

The Salt Lake City restaurant marks the first Moe’s in the state and is part of the company’s plans to further develop its presence in the western part of the U.S. Moe’s hopes to open 70 new restaurants this year and continue an aggressive expansion, with new Moe’s also debuting in Chicago, Cleveland, and the state of Iowa. Expansion over the coming year will be driven by several multiunit franchise deals inked, including: a 20-unit deal for West Chicago, signed by Willie Torchia, franchise owner of 16 TGI Fridays restaurants; a 12-unit deal for the Baltimore DMA, signed by Hardy Gill, a franchise owner/partner in 30 Denny’s restaurants; a 12-unit deal for all of Maine and North Boston, signed by Danny Costa, Mike Costa, and Mark Pesce, franchise owners of more than 40 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants; a 12-unit deal for most of Iowa, signed by Scott Davis, Matt Middendorp, Mike Middendorp, and Mike Flanagan, franchise owners of nine Pizza Ranch restaurants.

Moe’s operates in 37 states including D.C., and in international markets such as Guatemala and Jamaica. The company is seeking experienced, multiunit franchise owners to develop San Francisco, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and Detroit.

In 2014, Moe’s opened 63 new restaurants—more than one restaurant per week—and signed over 150 new franchise deals. The company had 5.8 percent positive same-store sales and $570 million system-wide sales.

Ranked No. 1 Mexican food chain by consumers in Restaurant Business Magazine in 2015, Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill serves fresh, made-to-order burritos, and Southwest fare in a fun and laidback environment.

“Welcome to Moe’s!” is more than a greeting; it’s a way of life for the folks who customize each meal made fresh, to order in front of every guest. All meals, including signature menu items like the Homewrecker burrito, Close Talker salad, and John Coctostan quesadilla, are served with free chips and salsa. New Moe’s locations also encourage guests to customize their beverage by offering a selection of more than 100 brands to choose from with the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountain.

Franchising, Growth, News, Moe's Southwest Grill