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Retail Roundup

Shopping and restaurant news from around the Duke City

Taco John’s coming to Albuquerque metro

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The metro area's first Taco John's is slated to open in February in Rio Rancho. (Photo courtesy of Taco John's)

The metro area’s first Taco John’s is slated to open in February in Rio Rancho. (Photo courtesy of Taco John’s)

Say “hola” to Taco John’s, a Mexican food chain ready to debut in the Albuquerque metro.

The area’s first franchise is slated to open next month in Rio Rancho, and the company is hoping more outlets will follow.

Albuquerque is a “priority market for us,” said Renee Middleton, vice president of marketing for Taco John’s.

She said the company didn’t have a target number of locations in Albuquerque. She said that depends on franchisees who are responsible for 97.5 percent of Taco John’s restaurants.

The Cheyenne, Wyo.-based fast-food brand has more than 400 locations in 25 states, according to its website. That includes New Mexico, although the only current Land of Enchantment location is at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo.

Taco John’s — first franchised in 1969, a year after the original “Taco House” opened in Cheyenne — previously has focused its growth on smaller, more rural markets.

But Middleton said the strategy has shifted with a CEO change last year. It is now targeting larger metro areas.

“It’s (about) going into markets where there’s opportunity for a franchisee or a group of franchisees to really penetrate a market,” Middleton said.

Ron Brown is opening the first local Taco John’s. It’s going inside Latitudes, his high-end fueling station/convenience store on N.M. 528 near Intel in Rio Rancho.

He said Taco John’s will replace the property’s sandwich shop.

Taco John’s offers a menu full of burritos, tacos, nachos and the like.

But Middleton said its signature item is Potato Olés, which she likened to seasoned tater tots “but way, way better than that.”

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