Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill announced plans to continue its growth over the coming year. Emerging stronger than ever from the pandemic, Salsa Fresca welcomed Eric Friedman, a former Team Director for New England at Chipotle, as its new COO to lead its growth initiatives. Growth plans include doubling the number of restaurants over the next 12 months while continuing the regional chain’s successful formula, inclusive culture and focus on creating a welcoming environment at every location.

Friedman will lead Salsa Fresca’s growth plans include adding more corporate stores as well as franchise units. “We thrived throughout the pandemic because we were able to adapt, and even with our lobbies shut down, we did a tremendous amount of volume, which was an amazing thing for us,” says Marc Miles, co-owner of Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill. “Our continued success and growth lies in our ability to continually evolve, making each customer’s experience the best it can be, and making Salsa Fresca the best possible place to work for our employees. Even as we grow, our plans are to keep that same successful culture and personality we have today.”

The move from industry leader Chipotle to Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill represents a major step for Friedman as well as for Salsa Fresca. “The decision to join Salsa Fresca was an easy one once I saw the welcoming environment,” said Friedman. “The diverse and inclusive culture is driven by a leadership team who has a great connection with their people. I believe all employees should have a voice and share in the success of the company. When I found out that all employees participate in a profit-sharing program, I knew this was a special place with a sustainable culture. Delivering an experience that is focused on great tasting food you can trust, that is served by happy and actively engaged employees, will continue to be our goal.”

An eight-year Chipotle veteran, Friedman brings a unique skill set to the table. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring on someone of Eric’s caliber,” said Miles. “Eric’s expertise, insight and industry know-how will be essential as we grow our brand throughout Connecticut, New York and the rest of the country. During his first month, Eric will be able to experience Cinco de Mayo, our busiest day of the year and see first-hand how our inclusive culture makes Salsa Fresca a unique place to work.”

“A big reason for Salsa Fresca’s long-term success, and why I believe it will continue to be sustainable, is because the culture is focused on empowering their people,” says Friedman. “A key factor in growth will be keeping that culture where it is. We want to retain that same engaging experience in all of our new restaurants, and keep that same feel that we have today, over the years to come. That culture includes making sure every staff member feels empowered and confident, and a part of something great. This includes continuing to share our success with all of our corporate store employees with quarterly bonuses based on profits. While growth will always include adapting and evolving, and learning from what made us a success over this past year such as more online sales, delivery and store pickup, rigorous safety and cleanliness protocols and providing ease of access, growth will also mean continuing to keep what has always worked for us such as retaining that inclusive culture, and the focus on great, always fresh food to our customers.”

“We will continue to empower our people,” adds Friedman. “This is one of the biggest factors in creating an excellent guest experience that consists of great food prepared and served by an engaged group of people who strongly believe in our mission. I am humbled that my 20 years of leadership working for great companies such as Enterprise and Chipotle has helped open this door to working with the fantastic people here at Salsa Fresca.”

Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill offers an extensive menu of signature items, build-your-own items, and an impressive selection of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and nut-free options. Salsa Fresca has an eco-friendly approach in every restaurant, with policies that include recycling cooking oil into bio-diesel, using humanely-raised beef and all-natural chicken, and working towards a goal of being a completely zero-waste restaurant.

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