Taco John’s International Inc., the iconic quick-serve Mexican franchise, announced it is going “Back to the Future” with the revival of its concept, the Drive Thru Olé.
Drive Thru Olé is the brand’s newest store design and is less than half the size of its traditional location footprint, requiring only .35 to .50 acres of land. This latest prototype is quicker to build and costs significantly less than the traditional free-standing unit that is 2,200 square feet with 38 seats. It ranges from 900 square feet to 1,100 square feet, and the exterior structure arrives to the site ready-built, interior finished (FRP, floor tile, ceiling grid and tile), along with HVAC, electrical, plumbing, three comp sink and hood and the kitchen equipment is installed on the spot.
Taco John’s, which began in 1969, originally built modular style, walk-up only restaurants in Cheyenne. The modular buildings would then be shipped to towns across the upper Midwest where franchisees would own and operate them. The brand has taken this original concept and revived it to fit modern times.
“With rising construction costs, Taco John’s has an option that makes it economically feasible to build stores in smaller markets, our focus initially is in towns with a population less than 10,000, and some high-density areas where real estate is limited,” says Brooks Speirs, vice president of franchise development.
Taco John’s has partnered with Extreme Cubes in Las Vegas to build these locations in its 200,000 square foot warehouse where it’s then shipped to the market. Once the unit has been placed, the kitchen equipment is then stationed, and the POS system, drive thru head set system and signs are installed.
The main focus for the brand is still on building traditional free-standing units, with the Drive Thru Olé being another format that is attractive in certain markets. Drive thru has proven to be the way of the future, as Taco John’s alone went from 62% drive thru before Covid-19 to 82% drive thru, third party or to-go pickup ordering in 2022.
Taco John’s franchisee RF Buche in Mission, South Dakota piloted the Drive Thru Olé concept in the market in August 2021. The opening was met with many Taco John’s fanatics to experience this new and innovative concept. Since then, this location has far surpassed all set metrics and expectations. And, he has since opened his second Drive Thru Olé in Winner, South Dakota which is exceeding expectations as well. He is currently looking for real estate to continue to build his portfolio of Drive Thru Olés.
“I have been president of Buche Foods, with 22 grocery stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, and fast food locations in our portfolio, since 2000 and see a demand in rural markets for concepts like the Drive Thru Olé,” says Buche. “The simplicity and labor savings to not have to staff and operate a dining room has been a competitive advantage for us with this concept.”
There is currently potential for the Drive Thru Olé to enter into 30-plus small markets in the upper Midwest which meet the criteria needed for expansion.