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Pink Taco donkey
<p>A pink donkey arrives at the launch of Pink Taco in 2007, in Los Angeles.</p>

Real Mex owner acquires Pink Taco

Z Capital Partners plans to leverage Real Mex expertise to grow brand

Z Capital Partners, the private-equity arm of Z Capital Group LLC and the owner of casual-dining Mexican operator Real Mex Restaurants Inc., on Monday said it has acquired Pink Taco, a two-unit casual-dining concept.

The investment fund said it plans to leverage Real Mex expertise across operations, marketing and branding to add new Pink Taco locations and “provide a strong platform for growth.” Real Mex currently has more than 100 company-owned locations and 13 franchised units, and operates El Torito, Acapulco and Chevys Fresh Mex, among other brands.

“Pink Taco is as original a concept as you can find,” James Zenni, president and CEO of Z Capital and chairman of Real Mex, said in a statement. “We believe there is tremendous potential to elevate the brand and expand its unique restaurant experience domestically and internationally.”

Harry Morton founded Pink Taco in 1999, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The concept specializes in tacos and tequila, and has locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

Morton will continue to lead Pink Taco’s creative direction and will guide strategic marketing of the brand, including the design and location of future restaurants, along with the launch of Pink Taco-branded food and beverages for the home.

“When we opened the doors to the original Pink Taco, we knew we had something special,” Morton said in a statement. “With this partnership, Pink Taco will benefit from the resources needed to accelerate the full potential of the brand.”

Z Capital was among the investors that took ownership of Real Mex after the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2012. Z Capital became the largest shareholder of the chain the next year. Bryan Lockwood, former CEO of Tavistock Restaurants, became CEO of Real Mex last year.

The acquisition of Pink Taco gives Real Mex another brand to operate. Real Mex has eight brands overall. The Pink Taco deal, expected to close in the next few months, will give the company its ninth brand.

“The timing for Real Mex to expand its operations with the addition of Pink Taco has never been better,” Zenni said. “With Bryan’s experience in both restaurant brand acquisition and brand incubation, he will lead the charge of redefining what Mexican restaurants can become with new and innovative brands and experiences.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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