- District Taco, a fast casual Mexican brand based in Washington, D.C., plans to reach 80 units by 2027 following the signing of several multi-unit franchising agreements in recent months, the company said Tuesday.
- The chain, which currently operates 14 units in the District, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, plans to open 10 to15 new units a year.
- That expansion will be concentrated in Florida, where the chain has signed franchising agreements to develop 40 units. District Taco will also open 10 units in New Jersey and 10 units the Tidewater region of Virginia.
Prior to the agreements signed in recent months, District Taco has expanded slowly, starting as a food cart in 2009 and opening 14 stores over the intervening 14 years. It quietly began franchising in 2021, but upped its efforts beginning in August as it eyed regions outside of its home market. In an interview with Restaurant Dive during the launch of the franchising program last year, VP of Franchise Development Tina Ganz said store volumes hovered around $1.7 million.
District Taco says its main point of differentiation from other fast casual taco chains is that its flavors originate in the Yucatan, rather than in the regions of Mexico bordering the U.S. The chain also serves food across dayparts, including breakfast.
Other small and regional chains have begun plotting national franchising pushes, and like other rapidly growing fast casuals, District Taco is primarily interested in high-net worth operators with experience running multi-unit operations, according to their franchising site. According to District Taco’s site, development agreements are available for 2023 in East Coast states from New York to Florida, as well as Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, with markets in New England and several further southern states to follow in 2024. By 2027, District Taco intends to offer franchising in markets throughout the Lower 48.
New brands, like Dave’s Hot Chicken, have achieved astronomical growth in recent years by targeting experienced, multi-unit franchisees. Legacy brands like Wienerschnitzel, by contrast, are trying to resume growth through staggered geographical expansion. District Taco’s limited geographical focus appears to offer a middle road between aggressive, national franchising and limited market-by-market development.