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Fuzzy’s Taco Shop gets into the drive-thru game

The fast casual said Tuesday it has signed a 50-store deal with a franchisee, all of which are slated to include drive-thrus.
Fuzzy's Taco Shop
Photo courtesy of Fuzzy's Taco Shop

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is the latest fast-casual chain to make plans to get into the drive-thru business.

The Texas-based taco chain on Tuesday said it had signed a 50-store deal—all of which will include drive-thrus. It’s a first for the nearly 150-unit chain.

The first two locations are slated to open in Alabama and Georgia during the first half of the year. They will be single-lane drive-thrus and will operate traditionally, without order-ahead capabilities, according to a Fuzzy’s spokesperson.

The Fuzzy’s kitchens will be modified to include a dedicated makeline and additional equipment for drive-thru operations, the chain said.

Richard Maddox, a current Slim Chickens franchisee and former Sonic Drive-In franchisee, will open the new Fuzzy’s locations in the Southeast, including the new markets of Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee, as well as in existing markets of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Fuzzy’s joins a growing list of fast-casual chains that have announced plans to open drive-thrus. The service channel has seen surging popularity during the pandemic as consumers look for convenience and COVID safety.

Shake Shack last month opened its first drive-thru, in Maple Grove, Minn. Portillo’s, known for its bustling dining rooms, is slated to open its first drive-thru-only restaurant next month. Chipotle Mexican Grill last month announced its first Chipotlane Digital Kitchen, its first pickup- and delivery-only restaurant without a dining area.

Chipotle has been a leader among fast casuals and drive-thrus, debuting its first order-ahead, pick-up Chipotlane in 2019. The burrito chain has found the drive-thrus to be wildly successful, with higher check averages than walk-in orders and no margin hit from third-party delivery. The chain has been steadily increasing its percentage of new store openings with drive-thrus.

In October, Fuzzy’s owner NRD Capital said it was launching a new acquisitive platform with Fuzzy’s CEO Paul Damico at the helm.

In contrast to the move to drive-thrus, Damico said any potential acquisitions will focus on chains with a solid on-premise focus.

“We believe there is still a place in the market for guests who are searching for a ‘dining experience,’” Damico said in a statement at the time. “There is an experience our fans love about Fuzzy’s in addition to the Baja flavor profile of the food. Whether it’s the full bar, our laidback patios, the music, TVs, or overall ambiance, guests seek out the physical restaurant to get the full Fuzzy’s experience.”

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