The TacoTime Brand Story
Making fresh fast food since 1960, TacoTime has grown from humble beginnings to become a premier Mexican restaurant franchise
Like many of his peers in the late 1950s, Ron Fraedrick dreamed of owning and operating a successful hometown business. Ron, a World War II Navy veteran, understood the dedication and sacrifices required to make a dream a reality. So, with a passion to succeed driving his efforts, he went about building the foundation for what is one of today’s leading Mexican fast-food enterprises.
After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1959, Ron traveled throughout the West selling petroleum products in a rapidly growing post-war economy. In Southern California, he fell in love with Mexican food and conceived the idea of feeding a different kind of hunger — one that involved preparing and serving his own style of fresh, high-quality Mexican fast food to the hordes of hungry college kids in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon.
To fund his dream, Ron did what many young entrepreneurs have to do: he mortgaged his family’s home and borrowed an additional $5,000. That was in 1959, and in 1960 his dream became reality — he opened his first walk-up TacoTime® restaurant next to the university.
Ron spent many evenings perfecting his secret seasoning and hot sauce recipes. He would mix and measure just the right amount of spices into a 55-gallon barrel, rolling it around in the parking lot to thoroughly blend all the flavors, and then portion the mixture into paper bags. Later, when Ron opened his second restaurant, he purchased an electric cement mixer to provide mixing muscle.
In short order Ron had three successful local restaurants, and the unique taste and drive of the TacoTime brand began to attract interest from entrepreneurs wanting to duplicate his growth.
A bright future for this Mexican restaurant franchise
In fact, that’s the story behind the first TacoTime franchised restaurant. A business acquaintance loved TacoTime food so much he teamed up with Ron to begin franchising the concept in the Western Washington area. So, in 1962, just two years after the company’s initial debut, the first TacoTime franchise opened in Tacoma, Washington.
During the next decade, 48 franchised TacoTime restaurants opened throughout seven western states. As the 1970s came to a close, the company supported more than 150 locations. In 1978, Taco Time International Inc. was born when a franchise restaurant opened in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. By the end of the century, about 40 years from its humble beginnings in Eugene, Oregon, Taco Time International Inc. supported 225 domestic locations and multiple locations in Canada.
The expansion of our Mexican restaurant franchise over several decades led the brand to be purchased by Kahala Brands™, a global franchisor that specializes in growing more than 25 QSR brands in its portfolio, including Cold Stone Creamery®, Blimpie®, Pinkberry® (in the U.S. only) and Planet Smoothie®, to name a few, in 2003. Kahala Brands’ track record of growing QSR brands is reflected in its annual systemwide sales of nearly $735 million, and in its approximately 2,900 locations in 28 countries around the world.
“We are entirely focused on growing QSR brands,” says Jeff Smit, Chief Operating Officer of Kahala Brands. “The Mexican food category is the category that everybody wants to be in. We’re in this to fight the big boys, and we’re doing it by delivering on quality. TacoTime has over 60 years of serving exceptional Mexican food, and we have several franchise owners who have passed their restaurants down from generation to generation. From the franchise owner’s perspective, TacoTime validates very well: the food is great, the following is growing and the owners are making great lives for themselves and their families as small business owners. We have seen that when the public has a choice between TacoTime and the big boys, the customer comes back to TacoTime because we deliver on quality.”