The Tijuana Flats fast-casual Tex-Mex chain is adding a family meal kit as a delivery option available from all 130 of its branches starting Monday.
The $31.99 kit consists of a taco bar in portable form. Included are 10 tortillas, chicken or beef fillings, jalapenos, onions, lettuce, tomato, a big bag of chips and a batch of salsa. Steak or beans can be substituted for the chicken or ground beef.
It’s intended to feed four to six people.
The meal package is available for delivery through UberEats, which also provides delivery of a la carte items from the chain.
Tijuana Flats is calling the large-sized option a meal kit, but the dinner replacement differs from the packaged meals that services like Blue Apron or HelloFresh label with the term. Those meal kits tend to be boxes of prepped and premeasured ingredients that a customer can combine and cook at home.
No cooking is required for Tijuana Flats’ kits, though they, too, are intended to replace made-from-scratch meals.
Chick-fil-A is similarly using the label “meal kits” for a line of ready-to-eat family meals that were introduced in three test markets earlier this week.
True meal kits are also typically ordered in weekly or monthly quantities, and the customer pays in advance for those batches of dinners, lunches or breakfasts, as they would under a college meal plan. Monique Yeager, CMO for Tijuana Flats, didn’t rule out the possibility of someday adopting the multimeal model.
“We’re very agile, so we can do a lot of things that other brands can’t,” she said.
She noted that the meal kit was added without testing. “We just know it will resonate with people because it’s so easy and convenient,” she said.
Currently, the kits are being prepared in individual units, which also offer full-service catering.
The idea came about through a situation in Yeager’s life. A friend’s husband was hospitalized after being diagnosed with leukemia, and the woman wasn’t getting home to her family until 10 p.m. every night. Yeager offered to help her friend by providing dinner one night.
Instead of cooking, Yeager stopped at one of Tijuana Flats’ restaurants and asked the general manager to pull together cooked meal components and place them for transport in several catering trays. She lugged the ready-to-assemble dinner to her friend’s family, who devoured it.
“Honestly, it didn’t come about as part of this whole craze,” said Yeager, referring to the meal kit boom. “It was the result of me being a single mom who doesn’t cook very much.”
The product will be introduced via social media, Tijuana Flats’ loyalty programs and “through our grassroots and guerilla marketing efforts,” Yeager said.