GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids-based franchise restaurant operator is bringing Taco John’s to West Michigan.
Meritage Hospitality Group has signed an exclusive 50-store development agreement with Taco John’s that Meritage says includes additional exclusive rights to develop more than 200 restaurants, a company report states. A Meritage spokesperson tells News 8 at least one of the Taco John’s locations will be in West Michigan.
Taco John’s started in 1968 as a taco stand in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The franchise restaurant which trademarked “Taco Tuesday” serves up fried chicken tacos, Potato Oles, nachos, breakfast burritos, bowls, quesadillas and handmade salsa.
Taco John’s now operates and franchises nearly 400 fast food restaurants in 23 states. The company website shows no locations in Michigan, although there was a Taco John’s in Stevensville until last year. That location closed and is now a Crazy King Burrito, according to Harbor Country News. The closest Taco John’s is now about 150 miles away from Grand Rapids in Huntington, Indiana.
Meritage expects to open its first Taco John’s restaurants later this year. The company expects to release additional details about the locations at the end of April.
Meritage CEO Robert Schermer Jr. anticipates launching a record number of restaurant development projects in 2022.
“We are very optimistic about where we are headed over the next couple of years,” he stated in a news release.
Based on preliminary results, Meritage says its sales rose 11.8% last year compared to the year prior, bolstered by its “highly resilient” Wendy’s restaurants. The company says its sales also hit a record $577.1 million, despite the recent industry challenges with staffing and the supply chain. In addition, Meritage said last year brought record wage inflation.
The company expects a slow start to earnings this year because of labor shortages and higher food costs prompted by the pandemic, but the company says its sales are predicted to grow between 10% and 15% in 2022. Meritage says the staffing situation is starting to improve and “pandemic related cost pressures” should ease in the second half of the year, if predictions hold true.
Meritage operates nearly 350 restaurants in 16 states, including Michigan. Its West Michigan restaurants include Stan’s Tacos and Morning Belle.