Salsarita's CEO on the secret to growing fast casual brands

Salsarita's CEO on the secret to growing fast casual brands

Phil Friedman acquired Salsarita's in 2011, and is on a growth mission.

Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill CEO Phil Friedman is on a growth mission.

"It's not enough just to make me happy," he said. "On the contrary, this whole year of 2017 has been focused on producing higher restaurant sales and profits for our franchisees." 

Friedman, who before buying Salsarita's in 2011, helped to grow McAlister's Deli and Panda Express, said the secret isn't just selling one restaurant after another.

"It's finding the best operations person and then together growing and increasing same-store sales," he said in a company press release.

In Salsarita's case, that person was Ken Green, who Friedman hired last spring as president and COO. While COO of the McAlister's Deli brand, Green developed and implemented a more cost-effective store prototype and streamlined and introduced a more contemporary menu that included hand-tossed salads and a line of panini sandwiches, Friedman said. Green was also instrumental in leading Friendly's Ice Cream, a chain of more than 500 family style restaurants, out of a multi-year traffic decline. 

His experience is paying off in the form of new locations for Salsarita's. In 2016, it opend in Lewisville, Tyler, and Ft. Worth Texas; West Columbia, South Carolina; Powell, Tennesee; Tupelo, Mississippi; Madison, Alabama; and Asheville, North Carolina.

In  2017, the chain opened seven units in Evansville, Indiana; Ooltewah and Morristown, Tennesee; Rock Hill, Columbia and Boiling Springs, South Carolina; and Prosperity Church Road in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"2018 will be a great year of attracting strong multi-unit franchisees, building drive-thru locations, remodeling and updating older locations to our super new look, and a new loyalty platform that to rewarding our guests," Green said. "After all, in the end, they are the ones who matter." 

Founded in Charlotte, N.C. in 2000, Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill was acquired by Friedman in 2011, and operates more than 80 locations in 17 states, including 13 company-owned units.

Topics: Franchising & Growth

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