Though 2020 was marked by unprecedented challenges, the quick-service industry has proven resilient, so it’s little wonder franchisees are turning to strong restaurant brands for new investment opportunities.
“With the uncertainty of the pandemic, people want more control over their own destinies, so they’re looking into franchising,” says Jeff Little, senior vice president of development at Del Taco. “In an incredibly hard year for retail, we’ve demonstrated our strength as a brand, delivering very strong same-store sales during these difficult times.”
Little explains that Del Taco differentiates itself with its “QSR+” model, which features high-quality, house-made food one might find at a fast-casual or casual-dining restaurant while still offering the speed that appeals to busy diners.
“Our fresh ingredients and made-to-order food naturally elevates us toward fast casual, and we wanted our building to evoke that same mindset for the consumer—contemporary, fresh, and fun design assets with a light, airy, almost aspirational feeling,” Little says.
In addition to providing a modernized experience for guests, the brand’s new prototype, dubbed “Fresh Flex,” features innovative additions to facilitate the multiple ways guests now experience Del Taco, including third-party delivery pick-up stations that bypass the front counter lines, double drive-thru lanes dedicated to mobile orders or delivery driver pickups and dedicated parking lot areas for those who want to park and eat while on the go.
“The Fresh Flex design started with maximizing efficiency of the kitchen, ensuring it was set up for operational success,” Little says. “Then we moved outside to create the look and feel we wanted. Plus, the building is very flexible, so the option to construct a smaller size also makes the brand a more attractive investment, since it provides expanded access to real estate opportunities and can lower overall net investment costs for franchisees.”
Through Fresh Flex, Del Taco is leveraging the new store design to offer a “Menu of Venues” strategy where floor plans can scale to the size and needs of available locations.
“Unfortunately the pandemic has created a lot of shake out in the industry,” Little says. “But we see it as an opportunity for Del Taco franchisees to take advantage of newly available real estate—larger spaces that might have been operated by now-closed, full-service restaurants or smaller endcap units with drive thrus that we wouldn’t have had access to previously. Fresh Flex lets us scale the kitchen and the dining room to meet the needs of almost any location, such as drive thru only for car-dependent areas or with larger dining rooms in areas where families might gather after church on Sundays.”
The first new prototype store is slated to open in the Orlando market by summer 2021. However, the brand is now seeking new franchisees to help expand the new prototype—and the brand—to new regions.
“We have tremendous white space to grow throughout the country,” Little says. “We’re looking for people who love operating restaurants, have the capital and experience required to develop, and like high-quality Mexican food served conveniently at unbelievable price points.”
To learn about becoming a Del Taco franchisee, visit deltacofranchise.com.