Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

El Chico Planning to Open Seventh Restaurant in City

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

El Chico Planning to Open Seventh Restaurant in City

Article excerpt

"Mama" Adelaida Cuellar, original tamale wrapper for what was to become El Chico Corp. restaurants, may not have known in 1926 , when she started cooking for profit, just how popular her Mexican cuisine would prove.

However, managers for Oklahoma City outlets of the multi-million dollar Dallas-based Mexican restaurant chain recognize spice isn't the only thing hot about the Cuellar family legacy. They have wasted no time in locating a new home for a restaurant that closed in September.

The new restaurant - returning El Chico's Oklahoma City total to seven as it stood before the closing - is "coming soon," said Edward Robleski, regional manager, though he did not reveal the location.

The El Chico at 6014 N. May Ave. was forced to close when a problem arose in renegotiating a new lease.

The popularity of Mexican food accounts for the fact that the El Chico chain has seen most of its growth this year in franchised restaurants, said Robleski. The company presently has 78 company-owned and 23 franchised restaurants, compared to 76 and 16 respectively, a year ago.

"We are in an enviable position," Robleski said of franchise operations. "We don't even have to solicit for new franchises. They are knocking in our door."

The company's market research delays restaurant openings to some degree, Robleski said. He pointed out that getting the spicy fare on plates in each new company-owned restaurant first means about a$1 million investment.

El Chico Corp. is more conservative about spending that much money without considerable evidence that success is possible, according to Robleski. However, franchisers are, he says, "quite honestly, pretty wealthy and can take a chance on untested territory."

Although Robleski says the company doesn't want a reputation as mainly a franchise operation, he does indicate that franchises may feasibly make up as much as one-third of the total units in the future. …

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