Two men who have grown Capital Tacos from a single Tex-Mex storefront in Land O’ Lakes to five regional restaurants are expanding the chain again, to five more cities in the South, and hoping that Tampa Bay’s reputation as a launching pad for successful food chains holds.
What’s happening: Months after announcing franchise opportunities, Capital Tacos is partnering with CloudKitchens to start selling from-scratch tacos in Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte.
- CloudKitchens runs ghost kitchens, a low-cost way to slide into new markets at the right size, and grow. The new markets will be added over the next few quarters.
Josh Luger, co-owner and operator partner, tells Axios that they’ve deliberately built a quality “fast casual, plus” brand in Tampa Bay over a decade and demand is strong.
- The notion they’re banking on is that customers will wait a little longer and pay a little more for homemade Tex-Mex that’s better than good — and they’ll appreciate a menu that’s often inspired by and unique to the market.
- For instance: The Florida Man taco, with fried gator, sold out the day it debuted in Wesley Chapel.
Yes, but: They want to scale up at the right pace, without cutting corners and losing quality.
- “We’ve had paths to grow a lot faster,” Luger tells Axios. “But the best way to ruin it is to grow too fast.”
Flashback: So many now-ubiquitous restaurants got their start in Tampa Bay — from Hooters to Bonefish Grill to Outback Steakhouse — that the region has long been known as fertile soil for growing national chains.
- But many with ambition to grow have sputtered out.
What they’re saying: “It’s never about moving as fast as possible,” Luger said. “We want to get better as we grow.”