Chronic Tacos began in 2002 as a venture between friends who were sick of not having great tacos near their local hangout in Newport Beach, California. They opened a storefront focusing on serving authentic Mexican food with a vibe that would be slightly elevated from a typical taqueria.
The friends—Randy Wyner and Dan Biello—couldn’t have known that they were starting something of a movement, an organic approach to food and business they now define as the “Taco Life.”
“‘Taco Life’ for us is about individuality,” says Michael Mohammed, CEO of Chronic Tacos. “It’s about embracing the uniqueness of everybody’s lifestyle, whatever it is that they do. It’s really a culture that values creativity, progressiveness, and having fun—that’s the vibe we’ve created as a brand and that we seek to build within our restaurants.”
According to Mohammed, there are three strategic pillars that the brand focuses on to make it stand out from its competitors: unparalleled flavor, an elevated vibe, and an irresistible edge.
The unparalleled flavor comes from Southern California-inspired, third-generation recipes that Mohammed and others refer to as “higher quality than a typical fast casual.” Popular menu items include the signature California burrito, as well as tacos al pastor.
The elevated vibe is created by the approach the brand takes to training employees, emphasizing an atmosphere where everyone will feel welcome and happy to be hanging out there. According to Mohammed, each employee is encouraged to be their “true, authentic self,” which helps forge that image throughout the brand.
Finally, the irresistible edge is the brand’s approach to unique decor, music playlists, and things like large, eye-catching murals on walls that help bring a Southern California spirit to wherever a store is built.
“This is a growing segment,” Mohammed says. “There are many brands our size serving Mexican food, so you have to create an experience for the customer, and we really believe we create the best, most unique experience. And on top of that, our food is more authentic and traditional. We’ll put our food up against any competitor, bigger, smaller, quick service, or full service.”
All of this has translated into great business for the brand, with same-store sales growing 8 percent year over year in 2021. Chronic Tacos has grown to over 50 locations and is looking to franchise with people excited to bring the Taco Life to their community.
“Our franchisee for an upcoming location was telling me that he cannot wait to begin serving our food,” Mohammed says. “There’s such a sense of pride in the food we serve and the story behind its authenticity. I think it is a passion for our franchisees—it’s not just burgers out of a bag. The taco life is real.”
For more on the Taco Life, visit chronictacos.com/own-franchise.