Fort Worth-Founded Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Chain Acquired for $80M

Dine Brands Global—the parent company of IHOP and Applebee's Grill + Bar—acquired the fast casual Fuzzy's Taco Shop chain, which serves Baja-style Mexican food in "a fun, energetic atmosphere." Since the first Fuzzy's was founded in 2003 near TCU, the chain has grown to 138 locations in 18 states.

Nearly 20 years after it was founded as a laid-back taco hangout for nearby TCU students, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop has grown to 218 locations in 18 states. And now it’s been acquired for $80 million in cash by Dine Brands Global, the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s Grill + Bar.

California-based Dine Brands acquired the chain from Atlanta-based NRD Capital Management, it was announced today. NRD acquired “a significant majority stake” in Fuzzy’s 2016, and said it has since partnered with founder Mel Knight to nearly double the chain’s unit count.

“We had many options when evaluating the ideal partner to help accelerate the growth of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop,” founder Knight said in a statement. “We selected NRD because of their operator-centric mentality, flexible capital, and unparalleled franchising experience. Partnering with NRD to improve our unit-level economics and supercharge franchise development was instrumental in leading Fuzzy’s to be the successful national brand that it is today.”

“This transaction is a textbook example of how NRD identifies and grows brands, which can result in successful outcomes for all stakeholders, including company management, company employees, franchisees and investors of NRD Capital,” NRD Managing Partner Aziz Hashim added.

Laid-back tacos with franchise power

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop was named by Franchise Business Review as a Top Food Franchise, Top Franchise for Culture, and Top Multi-Unit Franchise for 2021.

Fuzzy’s was also recognized in Franchise Times “The Top 500 Issue” in 2022. It appeared on Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 list and in Nation’s Restaurant News’ No. 10 “Fastest Growing Chains” of 2018.

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