Pancheros Mexican Grill has named Kato Patel as its Franchisee of the Year. Patel, a franchisee of the Mount Laurel, N.J., location, was commended for providing superior customer service and continually increasing his store sales on a yearly basis, according to a company press release.

Opening the first Pancheros location in New Jersey in 2008, Patel successfully introduced the brand to a new market, contributing to the openings of other stores throughout the state. Prior to bringing the Mexican restaurant to New Jersey, Patel was involved in the computer industry. He made the decision to leave the sector as he saw a void in the market for burritos and was attracted to the Iowa-based chain's business model. Over the years, Patel has operated one of the more profitable restaurants to date, said Rodney Anderson, president of Pancheros Mexican Grill.

"Kato has been such an integral part of our Pancheros' family and we are grateful for all that he has done in strengthening our profile in the New Jersey area," he said. "We truly value our franchisees and are thrilled to have individuals like Kato representing our brand and growing our concept of better burritos across the country."

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