Rusty Taco announced Daniel Smith, former Chief Operating Officer at Hopdoddy Burger Bar, as its President. With over two decades in the industry holding executive-level positions, Smith brings a proven track record of high-performing restaurant operations and seamless brand experiences for guests. In his new role with Rusty Taco, Smith will lead the brand to strengthen its position in the fast-casual space and execute its strategic growth plans.

“I am thrilled to be part of a concept like Rusty Taco. With a casual atmosphere, delicious menu and full bar experience, there is so much to leverage,” says Smith. “Right now, we’re focused on catching consumers’ attention by building off the brand’s strengths and continuing to improve. There is room in the taco segment for a category leader, and our goal is to gain momentum and catapult to the top. And, we want to support our franchisees at a level they’ve never experienced before while attracting new operators to join us.”

Smith’s journey in the restaurant industry began with Claim Jumper Restaurants, where he ascended through various roles over his 26 years with the brand, culminating as Vice President of Operations. His career has also seen him in key positions at notable brands such as Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Bonefish Grill. Additionally, Smith became a multi-unit Pieology franchisee. Most recently, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Smith’s deep passion for restaurant operations lies in harmonizing processes and systems to deliver exceptional guest experiences. As the new President of Rusty Taco, Smith is committed to enhancing operations, refining marketing strategies and ensuring the continuous delivery of top-notch food in a relaxed, casual environment.

In 2022, Rusty Taco was acquired by Gala Capital Partners (GCP), a California-based private investment firm. In addition to Rusty Taco, GCP is also the parent company of MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes and Dunn Brothers Coffee. With the backing of GCP and Smith taking the helm, Rusty Taco is on an aggressive nationwide growth trajectory.

“It’s an exciting time for Rusty Taco, and with the addition of Daniel, we are looking forward to growing,” says Anand Gala, Founder and Managing Partner of GCP. “This strategic move will guide Rusty Taco to becoming a leading fast-casual brand in the taco category, and we are confident that Daniel has the vision and experience needed to take it there. We can’t wait to see how Rusty Taco develops in the year ahead and beyond.”

Rusty Taco stands out with its emphasis on quality and freshness while being affordable for everyone. The brand provides operators with comprehensive support and tailored marketing strategies. With each location offering a local feel through its hands-on owners, Rusty Taco appeals to those seeking authentic experiences. Current franchise growth is targeted in key states like Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Florida with experienced operators who have a love for the food industry and an understanding of business ownership.

Employee Management, Fast Casual, News