When one box of tacos closes, another one opens.
After five months in business, the Fort Taco (multiple locations including 8106 Manchester Road, Brentwood; 314-647-2391) located inside Chesterfield Mall has closed.
"The Chesterfield location's closure is in no way indicative of a problem," insists co-owner Elizabeth Sedlock, who is also the company's chief marketing officer. "It just wasn't the right fit. We're a young business and we are experimenting with our concept. The mall channel just wasn't the right fit."
Even before opening the original Brentwood location to critical acclaim and throngs of patrons in November 2014, the owners of Fort Taco had their eyes on multiple locations. The store in the Chesterfield Mall food court, which opened in December 2015, was the second outpost of the popular "puffy taco" spot. It was followed one month later by a combination drive-thru/sit-down restaurant in Florissant.
The three locations allowed Sedlock and company to experiment with different concepts as they figured out how best to expand their brand into a franchise. It didn't take long to realize that the food court model just wasn't for them.
"Brentwood and Florissant are killing it," Sedlock explains. "And Chesterfield had a loyal base and really good delivery business. There was just no foot traffic though. We realized that with the type of fresh food we are doing, a true sit-down restaurant is what we should be offering."
In that vein, Sedlock is excited that the drive-thru only Brentwood location will finally be getting a patio early this summer. "It took a while, because we had to work out zoning issues, but we finally have a spot to serve our customers their food. We originally thought [a drive-thru only] would be ideal, but we realized we are not a Rally's model."
If you're worried that the Chesterfield closure means there will only be two Fort Tacos in town, rest assured: Sedlock confirms that the restaurant is in the final stages of negotiating a lease for a Fort Taco in St. Charles. Though she cannot reveal the exact address, Sedlock notes that the new spot will have both a drive-thru and a dining room.
"We're a young company and we are figuring it out," Sedlock says. "We are starting to realize what our market is, and we just really need both options like the St. Charles and Florissant locations have."
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