Taco Cabana has appointed Roberto “Pepe” Lopez as vice president of culinary design. As part of the leadership team, Lopez will focus on working closely with the operations, marketing, and training departments to further enhance and develop Taco Cabana’s authentic Mexican-inspired menu and service model, including all future limited-time only menu items. His hire and relevant career experience in and out of the Mexican food category serve as the perfect complement to TC’s strategic brand renewal journey, which launched in late 2017 to enhance food quality and increase menu variety.
“Chef Pepe couldn’t have joined our TC team at a better time,” says Chuck Locke, president of Taco Cabana. “This year has been all about re-establishing Taco Cabana’s food excellence and bringing fresh flavors, innovation and perspective to our menu. Adding Pepe’s passion for food, creativity, and expertise to the mix will be a huge asset in achieving the next level of quality and service.”
Lopez is a 40-year veteran in the corporate and independent restaurant industry, serving as vice president of research and development (R&D) for various major restaurants across the nation. With a lifelong passion and expertise in menu ideation and enhancement, Lopez’s career has been largely focused on providing restaurants with revamped innovative menus that enhance food quality and serve as a pipeline for limited-time offer products. His previous experience includes culinary positions at Flagship Food Group, Baja Fresh of Fresh Enterprises, and Real Mex brands Acapulco, Chevys Fresh Mex, Las Brisas, Keystone Grill, El Torito, and El Torito Grill. Lopez also helped design and execute the menu for the first El Torito in Japan, one of the top pioneering Mexican restaurants in that country.
In addition to his specialization in menu strategy and recipe development, Lopez has experience on the manufacturing and development side, and has created retail products for Costco, Sam’s Club, Ralph’s, and Trader Joe’s.