January 06, 2010 // Franchising.com // Portsmouth, NH – Known as the coolest place in town throughout New England for almost 24 years, Margaritas Mexican Restaurant – for the first time – is giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to serve up the world's best margarita. In a landmark move for the popular regional Mexican restaurant chain with 19 locations, company executives announced an expansion program that calls for multiple Area Development Franchise agreements and significantly more company-owned locations up and down the Atlantic seaboard over the next 10 years.
The first company-owned restaurant in the plan is set to open in the first quarter of 2010 in Lexington, MA. Most Margaritas Mexican Restaurants range in size from 5,200-7,500 square feet, due to the company's specialty in doing conversions of existing restaurants which fits their concept.
Margaritas has outpaced competitors in the casual dining segment, demonstrating solid unit-level economics fueled by a $2.3 million average unit sales volume, a beverage-to-food sales ratio of 45 percent and a 21.6 percent EBITDAR, which falls into the top tier of its peers. A strategic site-location process, which includes extensive research conducted by Buxton, an industry leader in customer analytics, also contributes to Margaritas' success.
"A constant theme we've seen over the years is that when we open a Margaritas, people thank us," said John Pelletier, founder of Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. "They literally tell us, `Thank you so much for opening a Margarita's here.' Whether it's a celebratory dinner with the family, or a happy-hour destination with co-workers for one of our famous margaritas at the bar, we have developed a large cult-like following among a diverse group."
Since its founding in 1986, Margaritas has grown to 19 locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut. Offering authentic, made from scratch Mexican cuisine, each Margaritas restaurant is a gallery of hand-crafted Mexican artwork. To ensure each restaurant reflects present-day culture with a respect for history, Pelletier, along with his brother and co-founder Dave, have traveled more than 50 times to working artist and manufacturing towns in Mexico to select hundreds of paintings, handmade tiles, pottery and carved tables and chairs.
Benefiting Margaritas during its expansion process is the depth of franchising industry veterans showing their belief in the brand, including President and COO Bob Hoffmeister, who helped grow such well-known brands as TGI Fridays and Applebee's Also guiding the Margaritas growth process are Board Advisors Larry Cates, a former Pepsi and Applebee's executive, and Tom Russo, former CEO of Howard Johnson's, Ponderosa Steak House, and American Hospitality Concepts. Russo was also named Multi Unit Foodservice Operator of the Year in 2001.
"The energy here is unlike any I've seen. From the corporate management team to the staff inside the restaurants, there's a strong sense of excitement that's built into the Margaritas culture," Hoffmeister said. "That's why employees and guests are so loyal to the brand, and, coupled with strong sales, is what will be attractive to franchise prospects."
As a pioneer in community involvement among restaurant chains, Margaritas has introduced Mexican culture to thousands of children by hosting demonstrations from visiting Mexican artists and inviting local schools and other organizations to take field trips to the restaurants.
"Margaritas Mexican Restaurants are as close as you'll come to vacationing south of the border, without getting on a plane," says John Pelletier. "That is the ultimate Margarita's guest experience."
Founded in 1986 by John Pelletier, Margaritas Mexican Restaurants has 19 locations throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. From colorful authentic décor to a commitment to community relations through field trips and visiting artist demonstrations, Margaritas provides an atmosphere rich with the culture and flavors of Mexico, offering guests a fun dining adventure in a festive gallery of Mexican art. Margaritas Mexican Restaurants have earned numerous awards and honors, including being named the best Mexican restaurant in both New Hampshire and Connecticut. Margaritas is franchising for the first time.