HP Patel and JT Patel love Knoxville, Tennessee. Since 2004, the brothers have owned and operated LAXMI Ventures, which will now open its 11th Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Knoxville. They opened Number 10 in Morristown at 140 Hatfield Drive on July 24, 2017 and No. 11 is located at 7614 Chapman Hwy, Suite 124. The brothers plan to open two more locations in Knoxville in 2019. The popular fast-casual Mexican restaurant dominates a market where there are Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill locations as well and HP Patel is proud of that fact.
“Our food and service bring guests back over and over,” says the University of Tennessee grad. “It sounds simplistic, but that’s the secret sauce. Good food, made well, and valuing our patrons every day.”
A native of Gujarat, India, Patel came to the United States in 1991 at age 15 where his family settled in Knoxville. In 1998, Patel graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in retail management. Shortly after graduation, he moved to Charlotte to pursue his own small business endeavor and got a job managing a UPS Store from 2002 to 2004. This is where he got introduced to the franchise business model. Patel changed his business strategy when he learned franchising was a team sport.
He liked it enough to go on a search for the perfect fit for a franchise that could become a family business; one he could go take back home to Knoxville and create a foundation for growth. After much research into various concepts Patel settled on Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill based in Charlotte, NC. The chain, headed up by restaurant industry legend, Phil Friedman, offers Mexican favorites such as five flavorful house-made salsas, custom burritos, tacos, nachos and salads made fresh to order with an extensive selection of proteins, toppings and fillings.
“I felt that quick casual was the definite way to go,” adds Patel, “and I haven’t regretted it at all.” He and his brother own and operate three Salsarita’s in Chattanooga, two in Huntsville, Alabama and will eventually have 18 locations in Knoxville.
“As our largest and fastest growing franchisee, the Patel brothers are the leaders in the Salsarita’s system,” says Phil Friedman, CEO of Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill, “and the largest fast casual Mexican brand in Knoxville and Chattanooga.”
LAXMI Ventures employs nearly 200 people in Knoxville. "We are thrilled to be in a community like Knoxville and Chattanooga where our following has continually grown. It’s great to see our guest enjoy our restaurants. We have a huge fanbase of loyal diners” Patel shared.
"In a hot economy where there is a labor crunch, we are fortunate to have found wonderful team members to serve our guest,” adds Patel. "The restaurant industry is going through a huge disruption with food delivery and off premise eating. People have choices. We at Salsaritas want to continue to excel at giving an awesome restaurant experience which makes people want to come to us. Dining out is a treat and a pleasurable event and we want to make sure our guests feel that’s what they are getting.”