LAKE FOREST, Calif. (WGHP) — There will soon be a new Mexican fast food competitor in North Carolina.
Del Taco, the nation’s second-largest Mexican fast food restaurant chain, signed a deal with Ram Restaurants to open five locations in the Raleigh-Durham area. These would be the chain’s first foray into the N.C. market. The company has not announced when these restaurants will open.
“The Ram team has demonstrated a strong dedication to providing top-notch customer service and the quality of fresh, delicious food we want to serve, which aligns perfectly with our beliefs at Del Taco,” said Jeff Little, senior vice president of development. “We are very happy to partner with the team to bring Del Taco to the residents of North Carolina.”
Del Taco offers Mexican and American fare like burritos and fries. The company specifically touts its “quality ingredients like freshly grilled chicken and carne asada steak, fresh house-made guacamole, freshly grated cheddar cheese, slow-cooked beans made from scratch and signature creamy Queso Blanco.”
Since the company was founded in 1964, Del Taco has opened 596 locations across the United States with the majority of them, 366, in California. The chain has also reached Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.
The company announced the deal in October, shortly after announcing a development agreement for southern Virginia.
Del Taco's expansion into the southeast has been a multi-year process, and it comes as the company is looking to open more restaurants using what it calls its "Fresh Flex" design. The company describes the restaurant design as "completely tech-enabled" and includes lockers for app and third-party pickup, double drive-thru lanes and designated parking lot areas for customers who would like to park and eat.
The chain opened its first Fresh Flex location in Orlando, Florida, in December.
“We’ve set our sights on continuing to expand Del Taco’s presence throughout the broader Southeast region for several years now and are thrilled with the progress made against that goal through the signing of new talented franchisees,” Little said. “The new Fresh Flex restaurant that just opened is already garnering additional interest from prospective franchisees looking for an innovative brand to add to their portfolio in the fast growth Mexican category.”
The company credits the Fresh Flex design with helping Del Taco to land nine multi-unit franchise deals in 2021 for 68 new restaurants across 10 states, including the five North Carolina locations, as well as locations in Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
To help further this expansion, Del Taco is looking for more multi-unit operators who may be willing claim territory, particularly in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia and Alabama, among other locations.