Tacos_&_Tequila_Cantina.png Photos: Tacos & Tequila Cantina

Paul Fleming agrees to invest in Tex-Mex concept

Veteran restaurateur joins Florida real estate investor to expand Tacos & Tequila Cantina

Veteran restaurateur Paul Fleming has agreed to partner with a three-unit Tex-Mex casual-dining concept to grow the brand in Florida and beyond, the companies said this week.

Fleming, who launched such concepts P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Paul Martin’s American Grill, has teamed with David Hoffmann, chairman of Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate and founder of the private-equity Osprey Capital, to invest in expanding Naples, Fla.-based Tacos & Tequila Cantina.

The parties have signed a letter of intent to invest in expanding the Tacos & Tequila brand, which owners Kelly and Aldo Musico first opened in Naples in August 2013. The brand has three restaurants in the Naples area.

“Tacos & Tequila Cantina blends a passion for local, fresh, hand-crafted food with a vibrant atmosphere,” Fleming said in a statement. “The culture and brand that the Musicos built in the Naples community embodies the type of experience guests are looking for today and in years to come.”

Tacos_&_Tequila_Cantina_tacos.pngFleming has created some of the casual-dining segment’s larger concepts. The 220-unit P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, which Fleming founded in 1993 with chef Philip Chiang, was sold by Centerbridge Partners L.P. in March to TriArtisan Capital Advisors LLC and Paulson & Co. Inc. The 70-unit Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, founded in 1998, is owned by Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin’ Brands Inc. His Paul Martin’s American Grill, founded in 2007, has 11 units in three states.

Hoffman, whose company is the largest private investor in commercial real estate in Naples, said, “The Musicos have done a wonderful job of bringing fantastic, affordable food to the Naples area, and we look forward to expanding the brand statewide and eventually nationwide.”

The cantina’s menu ranges from tacos that range in price from $3.75 to $5.50 each to enchilada, burrito and fajita entrees that range from $11 to $20. The brand also offers the “T&T Grande Burrito Challenge” with a six-pound burrito for $25. Customers who finish the challenge in 45 minutes get a T shirt.

The menu also features a variety of vegetarian “Yogi Tacos” as well as two items for which $1 is donated to WellFit Girls, a local non-profit leadership and empowerment program for teens.

The Musicos said they intend to expand their cantina brand with the investment.

“With our new partnership, we are eager to open more doors and continue to do what we do best in the neighborhoods where we do business,” they said in a press release.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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