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Taco time on the Gulf Coast

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  • | 11:00 a.m. June 19, 2015
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The future for Fuzzy's Taco Shop, a Texas based chain of funky Baja-style Mexican restaurants that serves breakfast all days, is clear: The Gulf Coast is key to its expansion strategy.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company recently announced multi-store development agreements that will bring at least 15 Fuzzy's to the Gulf Coast in six years. The chain currently has nearly 80 locations in 10 states, from Arizona to Georgia, but no Florida stores. The Florida strategy also includes another five locations in the Orlando market. “We believe (the Gulf Coast) is a little underserved,” Richard Phillips, Fuzzy's vice president of franchise development, tells Coffee Talk. “I think our product and approach will fit very well in Florida.”

In addition to breakfast, the chain's place in the market is one part family-friendly, one part fast-casual and one part fiesta, says Fuzzy's Vice President Mel Knight. The average check, according to franchise documents, is about $9.50, and locations have 85-100 seats. The decor emphasizes bold primary colors, and the menu is big, but heavy on familiar items. One of the more popular items is Baja-style fish tacos. “There are a lot of restaurants that do food really well. Some do fun really well,” Knight says. “We work hard to do them all well.”
Franchisees who will bring Fuzzy's to Florida include:

Former Applebees operations director David Hunt has rights to the Sarasota-Manatee region. Hunt will open the first Fuzzy's in Florida sometime in July, on University Parkway. Hunt expects to open two or three more locations by the end of 2016.

Brothers Ian and Adam Lieberman, with Adam's wife, J-Ray, have rights to the Tampa area. They expect to open their first location by the end of 2015. The team, the firm says, vetted more than 100 concepts before deciding Fuzzy's Taco Shop was the right fit for them, and Tampa. The Liebermans expect to open at least five Fuzzy's in Tampa over the next six years;

Husband-and-wife restaurateurs John and Kathy Browder signed a franchise agreement for Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, Lehigh Acres and Punta Gorda. The couple plans to open two locations in the Fort Myers area by the end of the year. The Browders own and run an independent full-serve restaurant north of Dallas and decided to retire in Florida with their first-ever franchise operation, the company says. “We've learned how difficult it can sometimes be to run an independent restaurant,” says John Browder in a press release. “Opening and running multiple Fuzzy's Taco Shops will be so much easier, and less costly.”


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