Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of units in a franchise agreement in New Jersey and initial unit start-up costs.
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant, a 23-unit casual-dining chain based in Portsmouth, N.H., has named Hugo Marin president as it begins a franchising push.
“I’m still in the acclimating phase,” Marin said of his new job, and added that the company’s focus was to franchise more restaurants.
The first franchise opened in Livingston, N.J., in June, as part of an agreement to open four restaurants in that state.
Marin said they were in the process of finalizing another five-unit franchise deal for Philadelphia and Delaware, with the first unit in that region to open in the second or third quarter of 2012.
Five other franchisees are somewhere in the processs of coming on board, he said.
Although franchising would be Margaritas’ focus for the next year, Marin said they planned to continue growing on the corporate side in 2013.
“I think the founders have done an incredible job with Margaritas for the past 25 years, and I think it’s an incredible venue for people who want to invest in a solid enterprise,” he said, adding that Mexican food’s popularity continues to grow in the United States.
A native of Venezuela who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., Marin most recently was chief operating officer of Al Copeland Investments in New Orleans, parent company of the 15 company-owned and 11 franchised Copelands, Copeland’s Express and Cheesecake Bistro by Copeland’s restaurants.
Before that, he was vice president of operations for Ted’s Montana Grill, and also held management positions at The Cheesecake Factory and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
The initial investment to open a Margaritas unit is $1.5 million to $2.5 million, he said.