El Torito – Corporate Client

Reimagining El Torito:Driving Revenue through Strategic Restaurant Design with SCGWest

Client Overview

For over 65 years, Xperience Restaurant Group (XRG) has been transforming the U.S. Mexican dining scene through bold leadership and brand development. Their journey began in 1954 when El Torito, their flagship restaurant, introduced Mexican casual dining to Southern California, making Mexican food one of America’s most beloved cuisines today. They pioneered Taco Tuesday, tableside presentations, and an innovative cocktail program, earning accolades such as Best Mexican Restaurants, Best Taco Tuesday, and Best Happy Hours from various media outlets.  

Despite these achievements, some El Torito locations began to show their age. Over time, they began to reflect a dated aesthetic that no longer aligned with the evolving expectations of modern-day customers. This led to a massive decline in revenue, lost business, and a dwindling customer base as newer competitors with contemporary designs started taking over the scene.

Recognizing the urgency, XRG was forced to take a strategic step to breathe new life into these establishments. They partnered with SCGWest to renovate and modernize certain El Torito locations, which would later generate a substantial return on investment (ROI).

The Challenges

Upon initial assessment by SCGWest, it was evident that the El Torito restaurants had become outdated and lacked appeal. Having been untouched for over 40 years, each location had become a symbol of dated décor and had a restaurant design that was no longer welcoming.

Beyond the visible aging of each restaurant’s appearance, there were logistical challenges to consider as well. Notably, the owners had a nearly impossible request: they wanted to stay open for business throughout the renovation period because they could not afford to lose revenue by closing a single one of their restaurants. This meant that any revitalization effort would need to be conducted with minimal disruption to business operations. As a result, SCGWest’s teams worked in the middle of the night to ensure each location was operational and ready for business by 10:30 the next morning.

Our Solutions

SCGWest came up with a complete, new redesign for XRG and their El Torito brand. This redesign was a collaborative effort from the start, with consistent communication between SCGWest and El Torito’s management.

The goal was to achieve a modern aesthetic by incorporating clean lines and natural colors such as white and beige. The landscaping was also revamped to create a simple desert-style ambiance, elevating the overall atmosphere to deliver a fresh, contemporary appeal.

SCGWest’s restaurant design didn’t stop at aesthetics. Understanding that “people eat with their eyes,” every element was chosen with the customer experience in mind. For example, a notable aspect of the redesign, the renovated bathrooms, led to a surprising 7% increase in revenue.

To address the challenges of renovating without disrupting daytime business, SCGWest adopted a night-shift renovation model. Our team revitalized two El Torito locations at the same time, over a span of three weeks each. In total, SCGWest successfully revitalized over 20 El Torito locations.

However, despite meticulous planning, challenges did arise. Among them, an unexpected accident resulted in a flooring technician being injured at the Anaheim location. In response to this critical situation, the two Co-Founders and Managing Partners at SCGWest stepped in to oversee the project on-site, ensuring that the work was completed on schedule so the restaurant could open in the morning.

Conclusion and Takeaway

The El Torito redesign highlighted several key findings. The most important one being the potential of revitalization. Even for a brand as established as El Torito, a thoughtful and well-executed makeover can breathe new life into its identity and significantly boost its revenue. These projects also led to an increase in new clientele and strengthened the company’s market positioning. Overall, all the renovated stores experienced a significant uplift in revenue, ranging between 15-40%.

However, the El Torito projects revealed the challenges of overnight construction. Working during the night, while ensuring the restaurant is functional by morning, posed unique challenges that future projects might approach differently. SCGWest advises owners to consider closing off sections of their restaurant for renovation in similar situations.

In conclusion, with the right approach, expertise, and collaboration, it’s possible to modernize and rejuvenate any established brand while navigating challenges. For those looking to achieve similar success in their ventures, reach out to SCGWest today!

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