Jollibee launches new US concept
JFC founder and chairman Tony Tancaktiong said the partnership with Bayless, a seven-time James Beard awardee and Michelin star chef, is a milestone for the group.
STAR/File
Jollibee launches new US concept
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2020 - 12:00am

Chicago, USA – Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC) and celebrity chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless have launched Tortazo, a new fast casual dining concept featuring Mexican food.

Following the opening of the first Tortazo site at the Catalog food hall inside the iconic Willis Tower in Chicago, the group plans to bring the fast casual dining concept to more locations within the city this year and to New York by next year.

JFC founder and chairman Tony Tancaktiong said the partnership with Bayless, a seven-time James Beard awardee and Michelin star chef, is a milestone for the group.

“I see it as just the beginning of what we hope and aspire it to become, an excellent brand that will delight our taste. Definitely, it is something worthwhile for us to work very hard for. Equally important, it is just the start of a promising partnership,” he said.

JFC has invested $12.4 million in Bayless’ restaurant chain Tortas Frontera LLC to build a Mexican fast casual restaurant in the US.

Tortazo offers griddle-crisped tortas or Mexican sandwiches, chilaquiles, salads and churros.

When asked if there are plans to make Tortazo a global brand, Bayless said: “If it goes really well here, perhaps, we can do it. We just have to make sure we build a really solid foundation.”
There are no definite plans yet to bring the brand to the Philippines, which has few restaurants serving Mexican food.

“They (JFC) have infrastructure because they’re in so many countries. They could help us set up there. It would be really nice to be able to do that,” Bayless said.

In expanding the brand, he said the partnership was looking at setting up in urban locations.

“We’ll figure out where else in the world it belongs to. Like I said, it’s a very urban brand so it needs to be in urban spots. There has got to be concentration of people and they have to be adventurous,” he said.

JFC which started as a family business with an ice cream parlor in 1975, currently has several food brands under its portfolio such as Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal, Burger King, Pho 24, Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, Dunkin’ Donuts, Highlands Coffee, Hard Rock Cafe, Smashburger, Panda Express, Tim Ho Wan, and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Meanwhile, Bayless’ other restaurants include Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, XOCO, Bar Sótano, Leña Brava and Cruz Blanca, Frontera Cocina and Tortas Frontera.

JOLLIBEE TORTAZO
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