This article was published on Restaurant Dive 5/1/23.

Tijuana Flats is planning to open 50 units by 2025 and launched a franchise incentive program with half-off franchise fees and a ramped up royalty program to attract new operators.

Dive Brief:

  • Tijuana Flats expanded its franchise development program with exclusive incentives for franchisees who sign on by Dec. 1, the company wrote in an email to Restaurant Dive Tuesday.
  • New franchisees will receive 50% off franchise fees, typically $40,000, and royalty fees that start at 1% in year one and increase throughout subsequent years. Royalty fees are typically 5%, according to the company website.
  • The fast casual chain is aggressively expanding throughout the Southeast over the next three years.

Dive Insight:

Tijuana Flats is targeting 50 openings by 2025, adding to its 104 company-owned and 20 franchised units. The company said this is the first time in 15 years that it’s looking for partners to open restaurants in Florida in addition to emerging markets within Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Tijuana Flats is targeting multi-unit franchisees who can commit to three or more locations. The chain originally restarted its franchise program in 2020 after a 13-year pause and opened its first corporate location in 2021 since 2018.

The Tex-Mex brand said it recently launched a new prototype with reduced build-out costs. The design has a new look and maximizes technology and convenience, according to the company. Each restaurant includes a hot sauce bar with 15 sauces and a customized mural wall representing the local community.

The shift in growth strategy comes just months after Joe Christina joined the brand as its CEO late last year after a stint as CEO of Church’s Texas Chicken. Christina has deep franchising knowledge that is helping drive this aggressive expansion strategy alongside the chain’s plans to focus on “developing winning teams, igniting growth, driving guest satisfaction, and delivering financial results,” per the [Tijuana Flats] press release [announcing Christina’s appointment as CEO].

With bold flavors and colorful experiences piled high with big-hearted, over-the-top service, Tijuana Flats boasts a menu consisting of fresh, made-to-order tacos, burritos, and other Tex-Mex appetizers, entrées, and desserts. The Tex-Mex-For-All brand has been named to Newsweek’s 2023 list of America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains, Franchise Times Top 400 in 2022, Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Best Loyalty Programs, and received the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 Restaurant Neighbor Award.

To find out more about what makes Tijuana Flats the top franchise opportunity and the leading Mexican franchise to own, download our free “Hottest Investment in Tex-Mex” e-book today.