After restaurateurs Miguel Hernandez and Damian Otero acquired Rreal Tacos in 2021 from the brand’s founder and namesake, Adrian Villarreal, the duo has been kicking things up a notch at the Atlanta concept, which marries authentic Mexican street food with a high-energy taqueria. FSR editor Callie Evergreen caught up with Hernandez and Otero ahead of the brand’s fourth restaurant opening.
The truth is, when we took over Rreal Tacos, we had no money left over to invest in the overall design of the restaurant. We took the restaurant how it was and focused on the internals of the business. We were bootstrapped, and still are. To this day, we take all the profits from the month prior and roll them over into the next project. Our expansion strategy is as follows: take over an existing restaurant, purchase the assets, make some minor cosmetic changes, then start selling tacos and margaritas 90 days later. We build everything ourselves, paint every table, and construct what turned out to be an icon of the brand, our “Tequila Wall.”
Tech to scale
As soon as we started integrating the most up-to-date restaurant technology, utilizing cutting-edge POS systems, and investing heavily in social media, our growth increased exponentially. We have seen month-over-month growth for the past 20 months, which has led to the opening of an additional three locations since we acquired the concept. The most challenging part of this process is keeping up with the growth. The systems in place when you are in one location doing $1 million in revenue is way different than the systems and procedures needed when you are on track to do $20 million in revenue. The best way I can describe it, it’s like going from driving a go-kart one day, to being in the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 car the next.
At our current growth rate, we are looking to add three additional Atlanta locations by 2025, expand into Nashville by 2024, and start venturing into Charlotte, Greenville, and the Florida market where we can easily add another eight locations. A lot of the original staff will eventually earn the right to not only become operational partners, but some will even hold titles at the corporate level. The VP of operations in 2028 might just be someone who worked their way up from busser or dishwasher, and in my opinion, that story sounds damn cool.
We made the decision to keep the company 100 percent employee-owned. After you earn your stripes with us and have proven to be an example of the business’s core values, the opportunity eventually opens up to have equity in one of our locations.
Word to the wise
Make sure you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with your concept, then assemble a team around you that will help you see your vision through. Launching a concept solo is not impossible, but when you do it with a team, it’s a lot more fun.