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Fuzzy’s Taco Shop plans to open its first smaller-scale Taqueria in Minneapolis, Minn., in April.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop pares down footprint, menu for new Taqueria

Fast-casual brand plans to open off-premise-oriented offshoot in Minneapolis in April

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, the fast-casual concept, will be opening a smaller, more streamlined version, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria, in Minneapolis, Minn., in April, the company said Tuesday.

The Irving, Texas-based Fuzzy’s said the Taqueria will offer a slightly reduced menu and be about a third the size of a typical restaurant.

A traditional Fuzzy’s Taco Shop unit is between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet, and the Taqueria will typically cover 1,200 to 1,800 square feet, the company said.

“As real estate opportunities became available over the last year, we realized we didn’t want to limit our franchisees to the traditional Fuzzy’s model with larger square footage requirements,” said Jessica Wescott, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, in a statement.

A company spokesperson said the to-go focused footprint was being planned before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, but coronavirus “reinforced the need for a model that would allow flexibility.”

FuzzysTaqueria_logo.jpgRestaurant operator Ed Pittsley will open the first Taqueria, a 1,100-square-foot location, on the ground floor of the Loose-Wiles building in Minneapolis’ North Loop. It will be Fuzzy’s first restaurant in Minnesota.

“The future of dining is as much off-premise as it is in the restaurant,” Pittsley said, “so this new footprint works perfectly to serve the needs for the neighborhood.”

The location offers Fuzzy’s best-selling menu items and a full bar. The menu will feature queso, guacamole and fire-roasted salsa, as well as main staples including Baja tacos, breakfast tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, salads and traditional sides. Margaritas and beer will be available with the option to take them to-go in the markets where it is legal to do so.

“We understood from a consumer perspective this new footprint needed to be branded differently,” Wescott said. “It was important to keep the overall Fuzzy’s vibe our guests have come to love and trust with our great food, cold drinks and Baja feel, but also make the Taqueria a little different to showcase the reduced menu and a more take-out driven focus.”

Mel Knight, president of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, said the company is in talks with other franchisees to expand the Taqueria.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, founded in 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas, has about 150 locations in 16 states.

In February 2016, Atlanta-based NRD Capital Management bought a 70% stake in the brand, which then had 90 units.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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