Salsarita’s, the Fresh Mexican Cantina with locations across the country, has announced a development agreement that will bring three new restaurants to Lexington by the end of 2016 as it expands nationally through franchising.
Long-time local residents Bill and Holli Gibson are the entrepreneurs who will be introducing Salsarita’s to Lexington. The Gibsons expect to open the first restaurant in early 2014 in Lexington’s Hamburg Place neighborhood. The couple hopes to open future restaurants in southern Fayette County as well as near the University of Kentucky campus.
Holli was born and raised in nearby Paris, Kentucky, where she and Bill have resided for more than 20 years. The Gibsons have no shortage of business experience. Bill has worked in the finance industry for more than 15 years and Holli owned and operated a retail gift store for 10 years. She now owns and operates HHG Photography, a portrait studio, in Paris.
Long before deciding to become Salsarita’s owners, the Gibsons were fans of the brand.
“We first ate at Salsarita’s in 2011 when we stopped at the Knoxville restaurant while traveling,” said Holli. “We were immediately impressed with the brand. The food was delicious and the service and ambiance of the restaurant really stood out. Over the past two years we’ve sought out Salsarita’s restaurants in Jacksonville and Louisville and now we’re excited to bring the brand to our hometown.”
The Gibsons have teamed with a local restaurant industry veteran who will serve as the company’s managing partner and handle the day-to-day operations of the business.
“Salsarita’s has been operating in Kentucky for more than 10 years and our restaurants, two in Louisville and one in Owensboro, have been very successful,” said Chris Bailey, vice president of franchise development for Salsarita’s. “We plan to open at least a dozen locations across the state over the next five years with five to seven of those planned for the greater Lexington metropolitan area.”
In June 2011, franchising industry veteran Phil Friedman acquired the Salsarita’s chain. Friedman has a long history of success in franchising and most recently served as chairman, CEO and president of McAlister’s Corporation, which grew from 27 to 300 restaurants during his tenure. Friedman named Larry Reinstein as president and COO. Reinstein is a well-respected leader in the multi-unit restaurant industry and a pioneer in the fast-casual segment. The duo implemented a number of changes now seen at restaurants across the country including an updated look, digital menu boards and a number of new menu items. Systemwide sales for 2012 were 8.2% more than 2011.
Founded in 2000 in Charlotte, N.C., Salsarita’s offers Mexican favorites such as signature Casaritos, Mexican pizza-inspired Cantizzas, and an assortment of tacos, quesadillas and nachos made fresh to order with an extensive selection of proteins, toppings and fillings, as well as six flavorful house-made salsas. The company has more than 80 franchised locations in 19 states. Seven restaurants are company-owned. Salsarita’s expects to have at least 10 new restaurants operating and 4-6 franchise agreements signed before the end of 2013, with long-range projections calling for over 300 locations nationwide over the next several years. For more information, visit www.salsaritas.com.