How Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Got Small With Its New Taqueria Concept
The new Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria will open first in Minneapolis with a reduced menu and a smaller footprint. (RSP Architects)
As people have coped with life during the pandemic, getting meals to go has become more necessary. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a Texas-based restaurant group that specializes in Baja-style food, has announced a new concept that will meet that need: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria, which will feature a slightly smaller menu and a reduced, to-go focused footprint.
The brand — which has nearly 150 franchise- and corporate-owned locations in 16 states — will open its first Taqueria location in Minneapolis. According to Fuzzy’s, the plans for the new footprint started before the pandemic after it noticed a shift of dining to off-premise. But when the pandemic occurred, it reinforced Fuzzy’s need for a model that gave flexibility.
“As real estate opportunities became available over the last year, we realized we didn’t want to limit our franchisees to the traditional Fuzzy’s model with larger square footage requirements,” commented Jessica Wescott, the COO and CFO of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Unlike the traditional Fuzzy’s units that span 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, the Taqueria locations will typically cover 1,200 to 1,800 square feet.
Wescott adds that Fuzzy’s understood that the new concept had to be branded differently. “It was important to keep the overall Fuzzy’s vibe our guests have come to love and trust with great food, cold drinks, and Baja feel, but also make the Taqueria a little different to showcase the reduced menu and a more take-out driven focus,” she added.
The company also found its opportunity to test the model when commercial real estate broker Peter Fitzgerald and restaurant operator Ed Pittsley approached it with a 1,100-square-foot location in Minneapolis. “Just as we were starting to get serious about looking for a location in the Twin Cities, the pandemic hit, but we knew we wanted to bring Fuzzy’s to Minneapolis,” Fitzgerald recalls. “We collaborated with the Fuzzy’s team to work on a concept that would fit really well in a post-pandemic environment, and that, of course, was the Taqueria.”
The new concept will open in the city’s North Loop in April, which features award-winning restaurants and stores, taprooms, live music, and Major League Baseball nearby. “We really have the best of both worlds with people living and working in the vicinity,” Pittsley said. “We are optimistic the Fuzzy’s brand will resonate with those in the area looking for affordable, approachable, fast-casual dining. The future of dining is as much off-premise as it is in the restaurant, so this new footprint works perfectly to serve the needs for the neighborhood.”