The Southern California-based restaurant chains Tender Greens and Tocaya are merging and forming a new parent company called One Table Restaurant Brands, or OTRB, the companies announced Tuesday.
Leading the newly formed company will be veteran executives from both Tender Greens and Tocaya’s former parent The Madera Group, who will lead the operations of 45 locations in California and Arizona between the two fast-casual brands.
Stepping into the role of president and chief financial officer is Lina O’Connor, who served previously as CFO for Los Angeles-based Tender Greens. The chain’s former president and CEO Denyelle Bruno will not be joining the OTRB team.
Rudy Sugueti, the former chief operating officer of Los Angeles-based The Madera Group, will serve as COO of OTRB. The Madera Group’s former marketing chief Matt Smith will be CMO of the new group.
And serving as executive chair of OTRB is Harald Herrmann, the former CEO of Yard House and Mendocino Farms.
On the board will be the founders of both companies. Erik Oberholtzer, a co-founder of Tender Greens in 2006, will offer guidance on culinary initiatives, and Tosh Berman, who created the Tocaya brand in 2016, will provide advice on creative vision.
The Madera Group will continue to operate the one full-service concept, Toca Madera, which will not become part of OTRB, O’Connor said.
O’Connor said the two chains came together as “natural siblings.
“It wasn’t a forced idea. It was such a natural combination that we were so excited that we were able to make it work,” she said.
The plan is to operate the two brands independently, with a shared back-office infrastructure. There is an opportunity for greater purchasing power, she said, as well as opportunities for development, particularly for landlords looking for interesting co-tenants.
“Nothing’s off the table,” said O’Connor, but the first six months or so will be focused on integrating the two teams to plan for growth.
Backing OTRB are investors from both concepts, including Alliance Consumer Growth and Union Square Hospitality Group — which took a significant minority stake in Tender Greens in 2015 — as well as legacy Tocaya investors Breakwater Management as well as Michael Meldman and Schuyler Joyner.
Both Tender Greens and Tocaya are known for their chef-made menus and locally grown ingredients with a build-your-plate component.
At Tender Greens, where lettuce may have been grown on the restaurant patio, the elevated menu varies by location but might include the option of steak, chicken or salmon plates, with the choice of vegetable, or salad, sandwiches or family meals. Tender Greens operates 27 units throughout California.
Each Tender Greens unit has an executive chef, and the brand’s culinary strength is part of its DNA, O'Connor said.
Tocaya has been known as Tocaya Organica, but O’Connor said the plan is to lean in to the name Tocaya Modern Mexican, which will help with brand awareness as the concept moves further out of California.
Tocaya has a menu of salads, bowls, tacos and burritos — and the menu includes vegan and vegetarian friendly offerings. With 18 units in California and Arizona, Tocaya locations are also known for their bright, colorful design.
O’Connor said both brands faced challenges during the pandemic but have "emerged strong". As dine-in returns, she said off-premises sales have remained steady.
“As people start getting more comfortable going back out, I see [dine in] as almost incremental sales,“ she said.
Listen to O'Connor's vision for the new One Table Restaurant Group.