How did you get into the industry? 

I fell in love with the foodservice and hospitality industry when I first started working for Marriott at age of 16. After completing my studies in Hospitality and Hotel Management, I bought a Subway, which was my first experience in franchising. I started working in a Mexican restaurant as a manager about 25 years ago, which introduced me to Mexican cuisine. With the experiences I gained, I opened my first Mexican restaurant and created my own brand and recipes in 1988. I opened, established, and sold several Mexican restaurants under different names until 2008 when I opened the first El Fresco. 

Tell us about your franchise model.

El Fresco is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant that offers dine-in, takeout, and delivery. We take pride in preparing all items in-house and from scratch. We offer our guests fresh food in a casual atmosphere without wait staff with portions and presentations that compare to full-service restaurants.

Where do you see opportunities or challenges in the business moving forward?

El Fresco opened its first location in 2008. We have always had a lot of requests from our guests to open new locations in their areas. Moving towards a franchising model creates tremendous opportunities for growth. 

The main challenge is to find qualified employees and the right talent to join our team.

What are your unique points of training and support?

We offer a two-week training at our Chantilly location. This is hands-on and detailed training, which covers every aspect of the business, including but not limited to, food preparation, ordering, payroll, and hiring. Once the training is completed, the franchisees can contact El Fresco for additional support. Furthermore, there will be more guidance provided through monthly site visits. Our success depends on our franchisee’s success and providing them with adequate support is essential. 

Describe a difficult moment in your franchise journey.

This is our first experience in franchising. I anticipate finding the right individual would be the most challenging aspect of this journey. 

Define your Franchise Model:

A. Training and Support Model?
We offer 2 weeks of hands-on training at our Chantilly location followed by on-site training at the franchisee’s location for 7 to 10 days after operations have commenced. Operations and marketing support are ongoing throughout the life of the franchisee. 

B. What is the Fee Structure?
Franchise Fee: $30,000
Royalty: 5% of gross sales
Corporate Marketing Fund: 1%

C. Territory Definition?
The typical territory will include a defined urban area and will be documented as a 50,000 to 100,000 population center with a 3-mile radius option from the location.

What does your franchisee do in the business every day?

A franchisee is responsible for the day-to-day operation of his/her unit. Therefore, they need to assure that the equipment is working properly, the unit is well-staffed, and the policies and the recipes are appropriately followed. It is vital that El Fresco’s menu is being served consistently in all locations. 

Describe the ideal franchisee.

The ideal franchisee should be self-motivated with great leadership skills and be hospitality-oriented. They should enjoy owning and operating their own unit. For multi-unit owners, they should oversee all units. We would like to invest time and effort in involved and active operators. 

Do you have any success stories you would like to share? 

El Fresco has been successfully operating since 2008. We opened our second location in 2016 and our sale has exponentially increased year after year. We have employees who have been with us for more than 10 years, demonstrating their workplace satisfaction.  We owe our success to our hard-working employees and loyal guests.  

What are your goals for your company in the future?

My goal is to grow El Fresco nationally and to serve fresh Mexican food at an affordable price in a relaxed atmosphere.