HP Patel and JT Patel love Knoxville, Tennessee. Since 2004, the brothers have owned and operated LAXMI Ventures, which operates their nine Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Knoxville. They’ll soon be opening Number 10 in Morristown, TN and Number 11 in Hardin Valley, both in the Knoxville area. The Patel Brothers popular fast-casual Mexican restaurants dominate this market where there are Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill locations as well and they are proud of that fact. He and brother JT also own and operate three Salsarita’s in Chattanooga, two in Huntsville, Alabama and these two new Knoxville locations will bring the total to 15 Salsarita’s for LAXMI Ventures.
“Our product and service bring customers back over and over,” says HP, a University of Tennessee grad. “It sounds simplistic, but that’s the secret sauce. Good products, made well, and valuing customers every day.”
A native of Gujarat, India, HP, as he is known among friends, came to the United States in 1991 at age 15 where his family settled in Knoxville. In 1998, he graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in retail management. Shortly after graduation, he moved to Charlotte to pursue his own small business endeavor and got a job managing a UPS Store from 2002 to 2004. This is where he got introduced to the franchise business model. Patel changed his business strategy when he learned franchising was a team sport.
He liked it enough to go on a search for the perfect fit for a franchise that could become a family business; one he could go take back home to Knoxville and create a foundation for growth along with his brother JT. After much research into various concepts Patel settled on Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill based in Charlotte, NC. The chain, headed up by restaurant industry legend, Phil Friedman, offers Mexican favorites such as five flavorful house-made salsas, custom burritos, tacos, nachos and salads made fresh to order with an extensive selection of proteins, toppings and fillings.
“I felt that quick casual was the definite way to go,” said Patel, “and I haven’t regretted it at all.”
“Our strategy was to have a big presence here in Knoxville, our home. But we then took over one location in each of the other markets, Chattanooga and Huntsville to begin operating in those markets too. We soon expanded in each of those markets and will continue,” concludes HP.
Patel’s commitment has brought him, as well as his partners, great success with Salsarita’s. “I attribute this to all the support I get by working with family and partners daily,” says Patel. “And the support we get from the franchisor is terrific. Phil Friedman is such a pro that he is now helping to guide us into a new, separate venture of our own, Tandur, a fast casual, high end Indian concept.
“As our largest and fastest growing franchisee, the Patel brothers are the leaders in the Salsarita’s system,” said Phil Friedman, CEO of Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill.
LAXMI Ventures employs 150 people in Knoxville, with more coming aboard for the newest location. “Food is a commodity, it’s interchangeable – people are not,” said Patel. “Finding the right people who care about the business is important – that’s the difference between being good and being great.”
Founded in Charlotte, N.C. in 2000, Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill offers Mexican favorites such as five flavorful house-made salsas, custom burritos, tacos, nachos and salads made fresh to order with an extensive selection of proteins, toppings and fillings. Salsarita’s was acquired by franchise industry veteran Phil Friedman in 2011 and operates more than 80 locations in 18 states, including 12 that are company-owned. For more information, visit www.salsaritas.com, like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/salsaritas and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @salsaritas.