Franchise Spotlight: District Taco Will Bring Its Yucatan Flavors Beyond DC

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a series of Ongoing Franchise Spotlights, highlighting restaurant brands that are new or are aggressively growing through franchising. Is your restaurant starting to be franchised? Email us [email protected]

In 2009, neighbors Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace launched their first District Taco concept as a food cart, featuring menu items based on Yucatan recipes shared by Hoil’s mother. About 10 years ago, professionals approached the co-founders with franchise proposals, but Hoil and Wallace wanted a proof of concept in suburban and urban markets first, said Tina Ganz, vice president of franchise development. at District Taco. The chain has since gained local recognition and spans 14 locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area with AUVs of $1,729,098.

District Taco officially announced franchise opportunities in August. But he had already quietly started franchising in November 2021, when he signed his first multi-unit franchise contract with Hicham El Abbassi and Isalmou Boussaa. The couple, who run DT Nova LLC and operate 11 other fast-casual restaurants in the Washington, D.C. metro area, opened the company’s first franchise store in Springfield, Va., in August. El Abbassi and Boussaa have finalized a second location in McLean, Va., with plans to open that location in the first quarter of 2023. A West Springfield, Va. location operated by the franchisee will also open later this year, according to a press release sent by e-mail to Restaurant Dive.

District Taco employees prepare food along the manufacturing line.

Permission granted by District Taco

Development projects: District Taco aims to add 20 to 25 franchises per year over the next five years, Ganz said. The company has units in the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland area, with a few locations in suburban Philadelphia. But the company would like to expand as far north as New York, as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Tennessee, Ganz said. District Taco is also attracting interest from Florida operators and will consider Sunshine State markets if the conditions are right.

During the pandemic, District Taco has developed a smaller store footprint with units that span 2,000 to 2,500 square feet instead of the previous 3,000 to 3,500 square foot model. Smaller units offer less dining space and proprietary efficiencies built into the manufacturing line, Ganz said. The company offers robust design and construction guidelines that span about 75 pages, she added. District Taco will also provide real estate expertise and site selection support.

Ideal franchisees: The chain is targeting multi-unit franchise operators, potentially with a multi-brand experience, that have infrastructure in place to support rapid expansion, Ganz said. District Taco is also interested in working with experienced restaurant professionals who do not have experience as an owner or operator, but who are ready to become owners.

Quick facts about franchises

  • Minimum investment required: $790,000 to $1.6 million per location
  • Minimum cash: $1 million
  • Minimum development requirements: Five units in five years (one restaurant per year)
  • Franchise fees: $25,000 per unit
  • Development costs : $50,000 per unit
  • Royalty fee: 6%
  • Innovation Fund: 2%

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