Abuelo’s parent to unveil fast-casual Nieto’s Mexican Express

LUBBOCK Texas Food Concepts International, parent of the 40-unit Abuelo’s Mexican casual-dining chain, plans to debut a fast-casual concept called Nieto’s Mexican Express on Feb. 9 in Evansville, Ind.

The company is currently converting a three-year-old Abuelo’s unit into Nieto’s. A company spokeswoman said Nieto’s would have a check average of about $8 per person, versus the $14 per-person check for a traditional full-service Abuelo’s. Nieto’s menu prices will range from $4.49 to $9.99.

Nieto’s will offer counter service and a casual atmosphere, the company said. The Evansville Abuelo’s originally opened in November 2005. Nieto’s will have about 210 seats, about 30 fewer than at the Abuelo’s.


“Our traditional Abuelo’s restaurants have earned a reputation for delicious Mexican specialties that raise the bar of Mexican food,” said Bob Lin, president of Lubbock-based Food Concepts International.

“Nieto’s Mexican Express offers us a way to further express our passion for food in a distinctively different way, while at the same time giving our guests the same quality they have come to expect from Abuelo’s -- only with faster service and a menu that is value priced for today’s budgets, with no tipping required,” Lin said. “Nieto’s offers a great value and an economical way to feed the whole family.”

The conversion includes the addition of a new fresh salsa bar in the unit. Exterior changes will primarily be with signage.

Nieto’s translates as “grandson” or “descendent” in Spanish. “Abuelo” is Spanish for “grandfather.”

Lin said Evansville was picked as the test market because it’s in the Midwest and the demographics reveal a community that is value-oriented.

“We understand that for more and more dining occasions, people want their meals quickly, with premium quality and service, but at a better price point than typical casual dining, and that’s why we developed the Nieto’s concept,” Lin said.

Nieto’s will feature a variety of Mexican platters and entrees including quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas, burritos, fajitas and taco salads served in a crisp, baked tortilla shell. It also will offer a full bar.

In addition, Nieto’s will have an area where customers can pick up to-go orders in the location near Evansville’s Eastland Mall.

“Nieto’s fast service, casual atmosphere and value-priced menu are a perfect fit for today’s busy schedules and tight budgets,” said Arshia Bahrolumi, Abuelo’s general manager who will remain in the same position with Nieto’s.

Agrand opening celebration for the new Nieto’s restaurant is planned for Feb. 16-21.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]