What will the next generation of tacos look like? What flavors will Millennials and iGens crave? And how much are they willing to spend when ordering at a quick-serve-plus restaurant? Those are some of the questions Taco John’s is looking to answer with help from its third annual Idea Summit for Menu Innovation.
“We have an aggressive plan to grow Taco John’s across the United States. Industry-leading menu innovation is one of the key ingredients to our success,” says Jeff Linville, CEO for Taco John’s. “Our street tacos are a perfect example of how the right menu item can make our brand more relevant to Millennials, as well as iGens, and drive same store sales. Now the challenge is to discover the next generation of flavors to keep them coming back.”
The Mexican quick-service chain invited menu development experts from across the country to join its “Idea Council” for a two-day brainstorming session. Franchisees who serve on the Taco John’s menu committee, members of the brand’s corporate leadership team, and more than 20 industry partners joined the group recently in the test kitchens at Food and Drink Resources in Denver. The challenge was to create as many ideas as possible for the next generation of tacos, quesadillas, and burritos.
“We made our mark in the [quick-service] world with our Meat and Potato Burrito,” says Bob Karisny, vice president for menu strategy and innovation at Taco John’s. “Our goal is to develop the next generation burrito that can be made to order, contains authentic ingredients with bold flavors and can be sold from a drive-thru window.”
Taco John's is looking to menu innovation to attract Millennials and iGens into its Mexican quick-service restaurants.
Taco John’s spent the second half of its Idea Summit in the test kitchen, turning the new concepts into prototypes that a group of students were invited to sample and critique.
“Their feedback is invaluable. The recipes we personally love aren’t always the same ones that excite our target audience,” Karisny says. “What we learn from consumers will always drive what we create in the kitchen.”
Some of the items on the restaurant’s menu can be traced back to previous Idea Summits. The company will continue refining and testing this year’s list of recipes in hopes of perfecting a select few that show the potential to draw new Millennials in Taco John’s and entice them to come back.