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Capital Tacos
Josh Luger and James Marcus had big ambitions to find a restaurant concept and do something “truly special” with it.

Capital Tacos takes on Florida

The brand has begun to expand using non-traditional formats

Josh Luger and James Marcus had big ambitions to find a restaurant concept and do something “truly special” with it.

Rather than start their own business, the two decided to buy an existing concept and expand it. That concept was a hole-in-the-wall taco shop in Tampa, Fla. that didn’t even have a sign on the front yet was ranked by Foursquare as the second-best place to eat in Tampa and one of the country’s three best spots to eat at, according to the company.

Both Luger and Marcus had restaurant experience. Marcus claims to have started the first ghost kitchen with a late-night concept he started in college, Underground Chicken. Luger used to operate a dining newsletter in New York City. They bought the taco shop and renamed it Capital Tacos.

Growth has been a slow process.

“We'd much rather have 25 of the best restaurants serving the best Tex-Mex around than 2,500 serving mediocre ones, even if they're more profitable,” Luger said.

The difference between those two, he added, is handmade ingredients.

“The differentiator between us and other folks is we grill every single thing to order. We have a true scratch kitchen,” Luger said.

It’s also not a build-your-own place. Everything has been crafted by high-quality chefs to be built for guests’ enjoyment.

“We spent a hell of a lot of time creating each and every one of the [menu items] to make sure they're perfect,” he said. “And so the result is a menu that has the depth and the breadth that you don't really see from any other chain.”

While tacos are in the name, Luger said they represent less than half of sales because the Capital Tacos menu is so diverse, including burritos, bowls, nachos and more. 

Capital Tacos now has five locations, and Luger said the company is pursuing additional growth under a variety of formats.

“We're somewhat agnostic, but literally at the end of the day, we come to market with a very clear statement, which is we want to have a lot of touch points … across a multitude of different real estate types,” he said.

That could include virtual restaurants, food trucks and traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

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