TaMolly's Opens Fast-Casual Spinoff

The long-established regional TaMolly's Fresh Mex Grill LLC has opened a new fast-casual version of the full-service concept in Plano, Texas, modernizing the concept for a more fast-paced urban market.

TaMolly's, with 11 full-service units in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, debuted the new Chiladas Fresh Mex Grill last week in a suburban lifestyle mall.

"This takes what's really great about TaMolly's, which is more of a traditional-style Tex-Mex food, and gives a more nuanced, updated spin to it," said Night Keyes, chief executive parent company Williamson Family Investments of Texarkana, Texas. "The fast-casual platform is really reflective of how people live now." The company expects to have four or five units in the Dallas-area market over the next year, he added.

The new Chiladas unit covers 2,500 square feet, compared to the 7,000 to 9,000 square feet in a typical full-service TaMolly's, Keyes said. TaMolly's on average have about 240 seats, and Chilada's offers about a third of that. Keyes said a planned patio will add another 1,200 square feet of seating.

Chiladas team

The Chiladas evolution of the 27-year-old TaMolly's concept better fits with the direction diners are going, Keyes said. "We realized we needed a different menu here to really speak to the people are looking for this type of food in the fast-casual platform," Keyes said.

Chiladas has positioned itself to be distinguished from popular line-burrito concepts like Chipotle and Qdoba by offering prepared plates. "We think our customers will want a little more of the full-service restaurant experience," Keyes said. "These are items put together carefully and thoughtfully so people can enjoy it."

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The new concept is aimed at higher-income suburban working diners with children, who seek quality and time savings, according to Keyes. "We expect they are going to be a little bit picky. I think we do well with price, but we're looking at the quality of the food," he said.

The Chiladas team has been working on the menu for about two years to perfect the recipes, Keyes said. Techniques and recipe preparations between Chiladas and TaMolly's are similar, but the salsa is the only same item between the two concepts, said, Chris King, chef for Chiladas.

Three hand-rolled enchiladas (in beef brisket, pork carnitas, chicken or cheese) with a choice of three sauces (verde, queso or sour cream) and a choice of side dish are $6.99. Three tacos are also $6.99. Salads and quesadillas are $7.99. Chiladas also offers beers and margaritas, and a catering menu for groups of 12 or more at per-person rates.

Check averages are expected to be slightly higher at Chiladas than at TaMolly's, Keyes said.

A typical TaMolly's has 50 menu items and Chiladas has about 12, or a quarter of the parent menu, said Travis Strate, operations manager for the Chiladas concept. "We wanted to keep the category as Tex-Mex fare, but we took the ingredients to a higher level," he said, citing pork and beef brisket that are slow-roasted for 15 hours.

Keyes added that Chiladas emphasizes the sources of its ingredients. "We spent a lot of time sourcing our ingredients," he said. The organic blue corn tortilla chips, for example, come from a single family-owned farm in South Dakota. "We work with vendors we develop relationships with," he said. Meats are trimmed and marinated in house, he added.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless