Panchero’s Mexican Grill has given a Franchisee of the Year award for the first time. Lou Kathrakis, owner of the Panchero’s located at 704 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton, Connecticut, received the honor.

Kathrakis, 30, opened the restaurant in 2007.

“I feel honored to be the first recipient of the award, and look forward to getting it again hopefully,” Kathrakis says. “Things are going very well and I am looking to expand in 2012.”

While this is the first time Panchero’s has bestowed a Franchisee of the Year honor, the company plans to make it an annual award.

“We have many great franchise owners so we thought it was time to start recognizing their achievements,” says Barry Nelson, vice president of operations for Panchero’s.

“Lou was a great first choice. He’s a military veteran so he is great at following the system, and his restaurant has been doing very well for more than four years. We are excited for him to continue to grow with Panchero’s and open additional locations in Connecticut.”

Founded in 1992 by Rodney L. Anderson and his father, Thomas R. Anderson, Coralville, Iowa-based Panchero's Mexican Grill is a quick-serve, fresh-Mexican franchise that serves its signature fresh-pressed tortillas filled with the freshest, highest-quality ingredients.

Burritos are customized and mixed with “Bob the Tool” to get every ingredient in every bite, and the menu also includes quesadillas, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads. Panchero’s currently has more than 50 locations in the United States and the company plans to have 65 restaurants open across the country by the end of 2013. For more information, visit

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, News, Operations, Pancheros Mexican Grill