Moe’s Southwest Grill president Bruce Schroder is on the hunt for a CTO — that is, a chief taco officer.
For Schroder, the search is more than just a publicity stunt; it’s part of a new phase of the brand, which includes a new look, a focus on off-premise dining and tacos. Lots of tacos.
“Our taco mix is relatively light compared to the industry,” Schroder said. “But when you peel back the onion, the folks that are growing and entering the category all have a 'taco' in their name — Fuzzy's, Velvet, Torchy's — so, defensively, we certainly want to stay relevant in the taco category, but the bigger issue is we don't want to be a burrito shop anymore. We want to be a purveyor of Southwestern food.”
Schroder hopes the brand’s new line of three tacos, the Three Amigos — chicken, steak and carnitas, with various fixings — will help shift the brand in customers’ eyes. The new tacos represent a move away from Moe’s customizable menu toward chef-built items.
The CTO will further help promote Moe’s new taco-forward thinking. The contest is taking place online, with would-be CTOs telling the brand on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter why they should win. The company will narrow down the applicants to three, and fans will vote on their favorite. The CTO will travel the country in Moe’s food truck for a few weeks and “take the tacos to the people,” Schroder said.
Schroder was more tight-lipped about some of the other changes in store for Moe’s, which is owned by Atlanta-based Focus Brands. In March, the company filed a patent on a new logo. The company wasn’t quite ready to release it to the public, but NRN and other media outlets found the logo and started asking questions.
According to Schroder, the company isn’t revealing too much at this point because it wants to get franchisee buy-in before going public. But he said the changes to the brand will be based on heavy research, which revealed that Moe’s is family friendly and appeals to off-premise diners, and found that the brand could do more to make things easier for delivery and takeout customers.
In response to these findings, the chain plans to add more drive-thru windows and will continue to add second production lines to keep up with third-party delivery.
“We have that intermediate customer who's coming in to do the delivery, and if they don't feel like they're making money or Moe's isn't treating them well, then they won't deliver Moe's anymore,” Schroder said.
And the new Moe’s isn’t just customer-focused, he added.
“Part of our brand evolution will be about being as attractive to employees as customers,” he said. “We want Moe's to be the coolest place to work again.”
Passionate employees will help sell customers on the changes Schroder has in mind.
“We have to retrain our guests, and in order to retrain our guests, we have to retrain our staff on the benefit of chef-built items” — like those tacos.
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