Taco John’s growing in West Michigan

    Courtesy Meritage Hospitality Group

    A publicly traded Grand Rapids restaurant group is bringing a Mexican fast-food concept to West Michigan.

    Meritage Hospitality Group [OTC: MHGU] announced Thursday, Nov. 10, its opening dates for three Grand Rapids-area Taco John’s. All three are set to open in December.

    The stores are part of a planned $100 million-plus investment from Meritage into the Taco John’s concept in the Midwest through the exclusive development agreement.

    “We’re excited to introduce bigger, bolder, better flavors to the Grand Rapids area,” Meritage Hospitality Group President Gary Rose said, echoing the chain’s tagline. “We plan to develop 200 Taco John’s restaurants in the next several years, but these three locations have an extra special place being that they are the first in our hometown.

    “We can’t wait for the debut and look forward to our continued expansion, which will bring many more job opportunities to the community.”

    The locations:

    • 1730 28th St. SW in Grand Rapids, opening Dec. 5
    • 4029 32nd Ave. in Hudsonville, opening Dec. 12
    • 6722 Broadmoor Ave. SE in Caledonia, opening Dec. 19

    The three Taco John’s locations are looking to hire between 100 and 150 employees.

    Meritage announced an initial 50-unit agreement in October, with stores in Ohio under construction and the option for an additional 150 restaurants.

    Since it was founded in 1969 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taco John’s has grown to nearly 400 restaurants in 22 states.

    Meritage operates 350 restaurants in 16 states across the U.S., including its status as one of the largest Wendy’s operators in the world. It also owns several restaurant concepts, including Morning Belle. Its 200 Taco John’s restaurants will be in the Midwest.

    “This is an exciting new quick-service restaurant brand expansion for the company and one we believe will provide long-term profitable growth for our investors and many new career opportunities for our employees,” Meritage CEO Robert Schermer Jr. said in October.

    As of Thursday, MHGU is trading at $19.50. At the end of the 2021 fiscal year, MGHU has 9.6 million outstanding shares with a fully diluted earnings per share of $1.81.

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