The restaurant leverages an affordable, scratch kitchen, Hicks said, with street tacos, hamburgers, and wings representing nearly 80 percent of the food mix. Entrees are priced lower than $10 and typically served within 10 minutes. Ojos keeps its menu at or around 25 menu items to maintain simplicity and high levels of execution.
The beverage menu is even more popular, with its large selection of tequila, margaritas, and beer. Ojos Locos claims to have popularized the first “Balon,” a long cylinder-shaped container that can hold up to 100 ounces of beer. Beverages mix 65 percent, compared to 35 percent for food.
To leverage underutilized kitchen capacity amid the pandemic, Ojos Locos launched $3 million Wild Peckers, a virtual brand that primarily focuses on a la carte and combo wings.
The sports bar sees 35 percent of its sales during happy hour, which is Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and includes specials on house margaritas, mojitos, and domestic and import bottles and drafts. Dinner takes up 30 percent, followed by 20 percent at late-night, and 15 percent for lunch.
“We take a lot of passion and pride in our food. We are a scratch kitchen, and have been there for 12+ years,” Hicks said. “No interest in changing that. Most people that experience the business, I hear comments that the food is much better than they thought.”
The accelerating growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. gives Hicks much confidence around Ojo Locos’ growth strategy. The 2020 Census showed the Hispanic population (39.26 percent) in Texas is now almost as big as the non-Hispanic white population (39.75 percent). In the past decade, the Hispanic population grew by nearly 2 million, while the non-Hispanic white population increased by about 200,000.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects the Hispanic population nationwide will reach 111.2 million by 2060, and make up 28 percent of the U.S., an increase from 62.3 million and 19 percent in 2020.
According to Ojo’s internally sourced data market research, Hispanics have a buying power of roughly $1.7 trillion. Forty-eight percent are considered heavy users of casual dining, meaning they visit chains more than 10 times in three months.
Hispanics are also more likely to come with a higher average check (non-Hispanics, $13.70; bilingual, $14.02; Spanish as first language, $14.21), dine with larger parties (4.2 per group vs. 3.3 for non-Hispanic), and watch more sports programming (20 hours on average per week vs. 12 hours for non-Hispanic).
“When you authentically and genuinely talk to this customer, they respond very well to that,” Hicks said. “There are folks out there that have not succeeded in delivering an authentic experience, and this customer sniffs that out. We have made it a high priority to make sure we very specifically talk to this customer because of the growing trends in just how important it is to authentically talk to them.”