Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. has made a majority investment in nine-unit Rusty Taco Inc. of Dallas as it continues to buy into emerging brands, the company said Monday.

Terms of the Minneapolis-based casual-dining operator’s investment in the fast-casual concept were not disclosed.

The deal follows Buffalo Wild Wings’ minority investment in March 2013 in PizzaRev, a Los Angeles-based fast-casual pizza chain that at the time had three units. Buffalo Wild Wings has 1,030 casual-dining restaurants in the United States and Canada.


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“Rusty Taco’s fresh approach to tacos truly sets this concept apart,” said Kathy Benning, Buffalo Wild Wings’ executive vice president and chief strategy officer who oversees new business development, in a statement.

“Buffalo Wild Wings’ investment is part of our strategy to partner with emerging restaurant concepts that have the potential for significant growth, can work throughout the country and have a highly engaged management team with a passion to grow the business,” Benning said.

Rusty Taco, which opened in 2010, has two company-owned restaurants and seven franchised locations in Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis, St. Paul and Maple Grove, Minn.

Customers order at the counter and pick up their food when their name is called. Tacos are priced and sold individually and range from beef fajita and barbecued pork to chicken and vegetarian. Breakfast tacos are served all day.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Buffalo Wild Wings and believe it can have an immediate impact in helping accelerate our growth,” said Steve Dunn, chief executive officer of Rusty Taco, in prepared remarks.

“Our co-founder Rusty Fenton always said, ‘Tacos are the most important meal of the day,’ and we truly live that every day by providing our guests with the freshest ingredients and authentic tasting tacos at an affordable price,” he added.

PizzaRev, which now has 11 units in California, two in Minnesota and three in Utah, is set to add restaurants in California and to enter Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas.

“As part of our long-term growth strategy, we are actively looking for additional concepts to invest in to build a portfolio of emerging brands, and continue to build a dynamic restaurant company,” said Benning.

For its second quarter ended June 29, Buffalo Wild Wings reported a 43.8-percent increase in net income, to $23.7 million, or $1.25 per share, compared with $16.5 million, or 88 cents per share, in the same quarter the previous year. Revenue rose 20 percent, to $366 million, including same-store sales gains of 7.7 percent at company-owned restaurants and 6.5 percent at franchised locations.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless