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03/18/2021

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Launches Smaller Concept Geared Towards Off-Prem

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria will offer its best sellers and a full bar in half the square footage.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria will offer best sellers and a full bar in a smaller space that’s geared towards off-premises dining.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop’s new concept, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Taqueria will offer a slightly reduced menu in a smaller, to-go focused footprint.

Fuzzy’s new concept comes as restaurants large and small are flexing their creativity and leaning into off-prem with convenience-led formats that align with customers’ preferences for contactless off-premise orders.

Fuzzy’s Taqueria will open its first location in Minneapolis. Plans for the new footprint began prior to the pandemic, as Fuzzy’s Taco Shop noticed a continued shift of dining to off-premise. The pandemic reinforced the need for a model that would allow flexibility for restaurant partners and new franchisees.

“As real estate opportunities became available over the last year, we realized we didn’t want to limit our franchisees to the traditional Fuzzy’s model with larger square footage requirements,” says Jessica Wescott, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

Small Size, Big Impact
A traditional Fuzzy’s Taco Shop unit is between 3,000-4,000 square feet, while the Fuzzy’s Taqueria will typically operate within 1,200-1,800 square-foot spaces.

“At the same time, we understood from a consumer perspective this new footprint needed to be branded differently. It was important to … make the Taqueria a little different to showcase the reduced menu and a more take-out driven focus,” said Wescott.

Fuzzy’s first opportunity to test this model came when Minneapolis-based commercial real estate broker Peter Fitzgerald and restaurant operator Ed Pittsley approached the brand with the perfect 1,100 square-foot location within North Loop in Minneapolis.

The Fuzzy’s Taqueria will open on the ground floor of the Loose-Wiles building at 701 Washington Avenue next month.

“We really have the best of both worlds with people living and working in the vicinity. We are optimistic the Fuzzy’s brand will resonate with those in the area looking for affordable, approachable, fast casual dining,” said Pittsley. “The future of dining is as much off-premise as it is in the restaurant, so this new footprint works perfectly to serve the needs for the neighborhood.”

The goal of Fuzzy’s Taqueria’s simplified menu is to be operationally friendly and easily executed in a strong off-premise market. The menu will feature Fuzzy’s most popular items, such as their famous queso and made-in-house guacamole and fire-roasted salsa, as well as main staples including Baja tacos, breakfast tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, salads, traditional sides, and drinks. Additionally, margaritas and beer will be available at all Taqueria locations, with the option to take them to-go in the markets where it is legal to do so.

While staying true to its roots, “this new footprint will offer more flexibility and we are looking forward to expanding the Fuzzy’s Taqueria brand,” said Mel Knight, President of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. “We are already talking to interested partners and existing franchisees who are equally excited about this option.”