Richland TacoTime is getting a new location. Here’s where to get those Mexi-Fries

Check out TacoTime’s newest location

TacoTime is opening up a new location in south Richland
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TacoTime is opening up a new location in south Richland

Greg Markel, a prominent Tri-City real estate investor and developer, is betting that moving the Richland TacoTime to a spot south of the Yakima River will boost business.

Markel is building the new restaurant at 2222 Keene Road, near Queensgate Boulevard, through his firm Washington Securities & Investment Co. Inc. The contractor is LCR Construction.

The south Richland TacoTime will open in about six months.

Markel closed the original Richland location at Swift Boulevard and George Washington Way several weeks ago to shift equipment. Most employees have been reassigned to a second TacoTime, in Kennewick.

The vacated TacoTime will be available for rent, possibly as an office. Markel said he doubts a quick service restaurant can succeed without a drive-through.

Markel said the central Richland location near Richland city hall never worked well. The combination of tight parking and lack of a drive-through kept traffic well below Kennewick levels. Dupus Boomer’s, a restaurant developed by his family on the same property, closed in late 2017 for similar reasons.

Markel called Dupus Boomer’s a casualty of tight parking and too many managers. He blamed himself for the latter, saying the restaurant had five or six managers. Traffic volumes were strong, but management salaries ate up most of the revenue, he said.

Old location remains empty

The space remains empty. Markel said there is some interest, but not enough to warrant the investment in nearly $600,000 of kitchen equipment in the space.

Markel is hopeful that by reopening the TacoTime franchise in south Richland, it will match the performance of its sister near Clearwater Avenue and Columbia Center Boulevard in Kennewick.

Markel has the area franchise rights to Eugene-based TacoTime.

He’s eying a spot in West Richland for the brand. The Tri-City market could support up to six locations, though Markel said he’d like to go to Pasco. But as a fan of Pasco taco wagons, he’s taking his time.

He became a TacoTime franchisee through a friend, and because he is a fan of the chain’s popular Mexi-Fries, seasoned shredded potato patties.

The Keene project is valued at $600,000. Franchise fees, designs, engineering, training, insurance and other fees add a roughly $400,000 to $600,000 to start-up costs, according to TacoTime International’s FAQ’s for potential franchisees.

TacoTime is a holding of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kahala Brands, which is in turn a subsidiary of Montreal-based MTY Food Group Inc.

TacoTime, with almost 300 locations in the U.S. and Canada, is a corporate sibling to Cold Stone Creamery, Blimpie, Baja Fresh, Planet Smoothie, Papa Murphy’s Take N Bake Pizza, and Pinkberry, among others.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.