Rapidly expanding Mexican quick-service restaurants celebrate more than 600 employees
Encinal Brands CEO and founder Ivan Flores remembers when he opened his first Blue Burro restaurant in Long Beach in 2019. Less than 10 part-time and full-time employees pitched in and assumed multiple roles to help make the location the go-to place for authentic flavors of Tijuana and premium shakes. Today, Encinal Brands LLC is one of the fastest-growing restaurant groups in California and the Southwest with 40 Blue Burro, The Buffalo Spot, and Tacomasa restaurants in four states. Like many restauranteurs, Flores has sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears to build a successful franchise legacy, but he is quick to acknowledge the backbone of his business rests on the shoulders of more than 600 hard-working employees.
“I’m grateful we have been able to witness incredible growth and expansion in just a few short years,” said Flores. “But I am indebted to our reliable, committed employees at all our locations. Without our servers, hosts, cooks, managers, and cashiers, our restaurants would not be enjoying the popularity and success they are experiencing today.”
National Food Service Employee Day is recognized annually on September 25 to honor an estimated 11 million workers in the restaurant industry. Although the workforce has reportedly declined since the pandemic, Flores says the key to retaining employees is treating them like family.
“Our restaurants started with family recipes that have been passed down through generations,” Flores said. “We initially hired family members, and when they brought their friends to work, we treated them like family as well. We look for franchise owners who want to be part of our family culture and who will embrace this concept with their own restaurants. I feel that employees thrive when they feel they are part of something bigger than just a job, and know they are supported just like they would be in a family.”
The “family first” approach has paid off for Flores, resulting in the launch of new locations throughout California as well as Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. As many as 150 restaurants are planned nationwide in the next five years. With innovative menu items such as World-Famous Buffalo Fries at The Buffalo Spot, Angus steak burritos at Blue Burro, and a recent collaboration with Red Bull to add to its premium shakes lineup, Encinal Brands is disrupting the Mexican food industry by fusing traditional family recipes with modern twists to please all tastebuds.
“In business, some people believe you can either do things better or do something no one else is doing,” said Flores. “At Encinal Brands, we like to do both. There is a reason in these uncertain economic times why some restaurants will decline and even go out of business. I believe that with our strong business model and the dedication of our employees, Encinal Brands is prepared to meet the challenges of the global economy and thrive during good times and bad.”
Restauranteur and entrepreneur Ivan Flores never wavered from his childhood dream of owning a Mexican restaurant business. He began by opening a restaurant, El Encinal, and learned from his experience designing and managing the store. After closing El Encinal in 2013, he began sketching out plans for a new Mexican fast casual franchise. Thanks to his vision and persistence, the first Blue Burro opened in 2019 in Long Beach and was an immediate hit, followed by Tacomasa in Long Beach, featuring the authentic flavors of Tijuana. Today, Encinal Brands has 40 restaurants in four states with expansion planned throughout 2027. For more information on franchising, visit https://thebuffalospotfranchise.com.
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