Emerging Brands

Fuzzy's Taco Shop to open 40 restaurants in Arizona and Texas

The development agreements represent a return to unit growth for the fast-casual Mexican chain under new owner Dine Brands, the parent of Applebee's and IHOP.
Fuzzy's restaurant exterior Georgia
Fuzzy's currently has 128 locations in 18 states. | Photo courtesy of Dine Brands International

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will open 40 new restaurants in Arizona and Texas over the next eight years under a pair of development agreements announced Thursday. 

The deals represent a return to unit growth for the chain, which has been trimming locations since 2018 and today has 128 stores in 18 states. More than half of those are in its home state of Texas, and it has just two in Arizona, according to data from Technomic.

They will be the first new openings for Fuzzy’s since being acquired in late 2022 by Applebee’s and IHOP parent Dine Brands. The franchisor believes Fuzzy’s has the potential to become a national brand and hopes to sell existing franchisees into the system. The new development agreements are with a Fuzzy’s franchisee and an IHOP franchisee.

Rogers Restaurant Group, which operates 16 Fuzzy’s in Colorado, will open 15 new locations in the Phoenix area by 2032. Nazarian Global Enterprises, an operator of 23 IHOPs, will add 25 Fuzzy’s in the Houston market over the next seven years.

Known for its Baja-style Mexican cuisine and in-your-face attitude, Fuzzy’s was founded in 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas, as a neighborhood taco shop. In the early 2010s, it began to grow rapidly via franchising and peaked at nearly 150 locations in 2018.

Dine has revealed few details about Fuzzy’s performance since the acquisiton or its long-term expectations for the concept. But executives said during an earnings call this month that Fuzzy’s is now fully integrated into Dine’s portfolio and has begun to roll out the value-driven promotions and marketing that are hallmarks of Applebee’s and IHOP.

CEO John Peyton noted that Fuzzy’s recently closed some weaker locations in an effort to “clean up” the system. According to Technomic data, the chain’s total sales declined 4% in 2023 and unit count fell 3.6%.

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