Uncle Julio's names Scott Lawton CEO

Lawton will keep his current job as CEO of Bartaco as he guides Julio’s into a growth push. RJ Thomas was hired as Uncle Julio's COO and president.
Uncle Julio's
Uncle Julio's has 33 restaurants in 11 states. | Photo: Shutterstock

Bartaco CEO Scott Lawton is the new CEO of Uncle Julio’s Restaurant Group, the company announced Monday.

But he’s not leaving Bartaco, the polished-casual Mexican chain he co-founded in 2011. Instead, he’ll pull double duty as Uncle Julio’s plans a growth push. Both brands are owned by private-equity firm L Catterton.

Also joining Uncle Julio’s is RJ Thomas, who will become its president and chief operating officer. Previously, Thomas spent 11 years as president and COO of King’s Seafood Company, a multiconcept group with 24 locations out West.

Uncle Julio’s was founded in Dallas in 1986 by Joey Shashy and Maureen Boutilier. Today, Uncle Julio’s has 33 restaurants in 11 states east of the Rocky Mountains and six in Colorado under the Hacienda Colorado banner. It also owns a delivery-only brand called Savage Burrito. 

Uncle Julio’s makes its food from scratch and is known for its Swirl cocktail, which combines a frozen margarita with sangria. Total sales rose 8.8% in 2022, according to Technomic data. 

"The company's legacy and culture built around attention to detail in every part of the dining experience will continue to serve as the foundation for Uncle Julio's during this next phase of growth,” Lawton said in a statement. “In partnership with RJ and the entire team, I look forward to leading Uncle Julio's in this next chapter."

L Catterton acquired Uncle Julio’s in 2017. It bought Bartaco and sister concept Barcelona Wine Bar a year later as part of its acquisition of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified Russell "Rusty" Fenton as the founder of Uncle Julio's. He was one of  the founding partners.

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