Tijuana Flats Announces Ownership Change

New ownership group acquires iconic Tex-Mex brand with plans to reorganize and refresh customer experience

Apr 22, 2024 - 10:14
Apr 22, 2024 - 10:14

Central Florida-based Tijuana Flats (TF) announced today that a new ownership group has acquired the brand with a plan of revitalizing its restaurants and reinvigorating the customer experience. The change marks a new chapter for the organization which was founded nearly 30 years ago. The new ownership group, Flatheads, LLC, listed the immense brand recognition, strong following and customer loyalty, plus future potential of the brand as some of the key reasons it was excited about its new investment in the restaurant chain. Prior to the change of ownership this month, Tijuana Flats had been owned by TJF USA, LLC.

Joe Christina, Chief Executive Officer of Tijuana Flats, said, “Our company is excited by the new ownership group’s plan to reinvest, focus, and emphasize the things that originally brought so many people to love Tijuana Flats. We understand the immediate financial actions taken by them to ensure the long-term health of this great and iconic brand.”

In conjunction with the announcement of new ownership, Tijuana Flats said today that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has closed 11 restaurants this week. Its executives said the sale and subsequent filing are the culmination of a strategic review that started in November of 2023 when the company began exploring various options which had included a potential sale. Furthermore, the decision to close restaurants, though difficult, was a result of a unit-by-unit analysis of financial performance, occupancy costs, and market conditions. Tijuana Flats will continue to provide full support to its franchisees and its remaining locations will continue to operate as usual. Flatheads, LLC said they recognized the critical juncture at which Tijuana Flats stood, therefore felt immediate action was needed to preserve the organization. They stated it was not only their desire to see this great brand and its legacy continue, but also to go back to basics and original roots by building on customer service, quality food, and fair prices so that the organization can thrive and reach new heights.

Joe Christina, who joined the brand in November of 2022, will remain as CEO of the company. He is a 40-year restaurant pro who brings extensive and proven industry experience to the table, having grown notable global brands. “Since joining the brand, I have been committed to leading with a vision to serve every guest the most flavorful Tex-Mex food and provide the best guest experience in the country,” said Christina.

The new ownership group said it was encouraged by the changes Christina has already put in place since his arrival and is looking forward to working with him and his leadership team to strengthen the brand. As one example, Tijuana Flats rolled out a new menu effective April 1st together with new packaging for take-out and delivery designed to enhance the product and improve delivery times to its customers. Flatheads has said its aim is to renew the restaurant's focus on quality controls, speed of service, consistency of food, serving size, and improving the in-store experience. As part of that goal, it plans to make renovations to many of its locations to give them a refresh and make dining at its restaurants a great choice for its customers.

Christina added, “Our new partners share a desire to continue the corporate culture and vision of Tijuana Flats, protecting and supporting our team members and franchisees so they can best serve their customers. With this new ownership structure, and a robust strategic plan, we are well-positioned for an emergence in the fast casual space. I look forward to evolving and expanding our brand and supporting the communities we serve.”