Back in 2004, LIME Fresh Mexican Grill opened its first location in sunny South Beach on bustling Alton Road with a modest 800-square-foot store and a not-so-modest line out the door. Boasting a fresh and healthy take on traditional Mexican, it wasn’t long before the SoBe spot expanded to multiple booming locations. Sixteen years later, the Miami-based franchise is flexing its muscles again with an updated brand; marketing and restaurant design; new menu development with the same fresh, local food quality; improved technology; more social-conscious efforts; and future franchise expansion to other markets across Florida and beyond.
Vinay Rama, CEO of Mandala Holdings, which took over LIME Fresh in 2018, was drawn to the brand for its local cult-like following, something he says, is what separates a great restaurant from a great brand. “LIME is not just a restaurant - it’s an experience that has kept people coming back for years. It’s all the pieces coming together: great ingredients, prepared with care at a perfect location, and always evolving menu with the classics – and most important is the culture of the people and the way they treat one another and the guests. But you can lose that edge if you get complacent – and that’s why we are investing in the evolution of the brand,” he said. “We are bringing the same fresh perspective LIME has always been known for to every aspect of the business.”
In keeping with its South Florida roots, this includes giving LIME a bit of a face-lift. A reFRESHed take on the original LIME look, the bright, very modern, very fun and very Instagrammable update is coupled with an edgier yet family friendly atmosphere. It fosters a cool, Miami-inspired vibe while continuously redefining how rewarding an experience can be in a fast casual establishment.
Another major part of that re-Fresh is the menu. Fan-favorite items like LIME queso (warning: highly addictive!), freshly prepared guac, a variety of tacos, burritos, salads, soups and LIME’s award-winning Margaritas, remain staples on the Mexican-inspired menu. However, with the introduction of a new head of culinary experiences, Kristene Gagnier, new items like the street corn, sweet potato taco, or Lime’s take on the kale and quinoa salad will add to the menu’s appeal.
But, wait ‘til you see LIME salsa. All of these favorites can be topped with signature fresh salsas from the LIME Salsa Bar, which offers a variety of house made options, prepared fresh daily from scratch.
“We continue to set the standard for Fresh-Mex with our delicious fare, on-site preparation, engaging staff, and high-energy atmosphere,” said Rama. “Even as we grow, our vibrant culture and awesome service maintains a neighborhood appeal with people who actually remember regulars and welcome newcomers alike. We’re about what’s real. That’s it.”
As with all things LIME, local sourcing and fresh ingredients are prioritized. Everything is handmade and unprocessed, and you will never see a microwave or freezer at any of the LIME locations. “From the freshest ingredients to our on-site preparation, we stand for authentic food and authentic people. When we say ‘locally sourced’ we aren't just throwing buzz words around,” Rama added.
LIME Fresh’s continued evolution comes at a time when the burgeoning brand continues to court a significant following of LIME Fresh-craving fanatics. Today, there are 13 restaurants open and operating throughout South Florida, half of which are located in Dade County and the other half mindfully located throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.
LIME Fresh’s first restaurant outside of South Florida is scheduled to open in Orlando later this year. According to Rama, it will be the first of many new locations planned throughout other parts of Florida and beyond. “Our ultimate goal is to grow exponentially but mindfully and with discipline. We want to bring that distinct LIME food - and most important feeling - to all of the areas that would benefit from our Miami-inspired Vibes and Mexican-inspired dishes. We won’t just set the bar for how to ‘keep it real’ for fast casual Miami-Inspired Mexican, but for the whole fast casual industry.”