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Taco Bueno opens revamped restaurant

Allen, Texas, unit features iPad management system, double drive-thru

Taco Bueno opened its fifth restaurant with a refreshed design in Allen, Texas, on Tuesday.

The unit is also the first in the 175-unit chain’s system to feature new iPad management tools.

The Dallas-based fast-casual Mexican chain, which is privately owned by Palladium Equity Partners, unveiled the 2,850-square-foot restaurant, which seats 72 and has a double drive-thru that the company is planning on rolling out at nearly all future units.

“This is the first one in the Dallas area,” said Edward M. Lambert, chief executive of Taco Bueno. “All the previous ones were in Oklahoma.”

The restaurant is among the company’s 155 company-owned units.

“This style has been developed over the past three years and brings an optimal kitchen layout, but more importantly, an aesthetic for the consumer so that as the guests come into the store, they find it a very pleasant environment for enjoying their meal,” Lambert said.

The décor also includes the company’s first “quality posters.”

“We thought what was missing was taking the photographs and telling our brand story. So we got specific with beautiful food photography of many of our ingredients — our guacamole, our salsa, our refried beans and so forth — but we’ve used each of the photographs about how they are hand-crafted in the store each day,” said Kim Hennig, Taco Bueno’s chief marketing officer.

Lambert said the message amplifies a key differentiator for Taco Bueno, that all of its chips, refried beans, salsa and other items are made in-house each day.

The Allen unit also incorporates Taco Bueno’s “Bueno Way” initiative, Lambert added. “We now have WiFi in that store, and we have iPads in the stores that we use for training and ensuring consistency,” he said.

Hennig added that general managers are “actually able to run the store via an iPad. It’s like the old ‘walk-through’ sheets and checklists, but they are doing it on an iPad. They are able to photograph product and share information between shifts.”

Cameras in the restaurant are connected to the iPad’s software. “We are able to document the times the beans are cooked and how the processes are followed and so forth, so that when operations folks come into the restaurants, they can go to the iPads and look up the tracking and documentation and make sure everything was done to spec all along the process,” Hennig said.

Lambert added that the iPad, accessible anywhere in the unit, also contains all the build sheets, training videos, walk sheets, between-shift communications, food-preparation timetables and tools to alert headquarters about maintenance issues.

Tuesday’s opening drew fans early on Monday, enticed by the offer of $100 gift cards for the first 30 customers. More than 40 camped out at the restaurant all night.

“We weren’t going to open until 9 [a.m.], but given the number of people waiting all night and [because of] their passion, we brought them all in at 6:30 this morning,” Lambert said.

Taco Bueno plans to open its next unit in Owasso, Okla., later this year. In addition to 155 company-owned restaurants, Taco Bueno has 20 franchised units, mostly in Arkansas.

Please contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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