Fast growing Velvet Taco outruns its HQ

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Photo courtesy of Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco is growing out of its headquarters.

The creative 33-unit taco concept will occupy nearly 11,000 square feet of office space in Dallas on August 1, a corporate center nearly five times larger than it currently has.

The new headquarters is a few miles from Velvet Taco’s existing headquarters, but it will provide plenty of room for expansion, said Velvet Taco CEO and President Clay Dover.

“Our current space is too small,” Dover said. “This is adjacent to one of our restaurants. I can look out my window and see the restaurant. It will be great for training.

Velvet Taco currently has 32 corporate team members and the new space can accommodate up to 70 people.

“We will continue to increase staff and support as we grow the restaurants,” he said.

Last November, Velvet Taco secured a new private equity owner in Leonard Green & Partners, which acquired a majority stake in the brand from L Catterton. Catterton, which has had a relationship with Velvet Taco since 2016, has retained a minority stake in the chain.

Velvet Taco, which was founded in 2011, has grown through an unconventional real estate strategy that reuses former businesses such as gas stations or other restaurant chains.

The chain opened four locations this year, and plans to open up to eight more restaurants in 2022 and up to 13 stores next year. The taco concept has more than doubled its number of units since the start of the pandemic.

“The new partnership with Leonard Green has been great and has allowed us to broaden our horizons,” said Dover. “What this new group has allowed us to do is think about five years. It helped me as CEO to make long-term decisions. They have been very supportive.

The chain, for example, recently hired a director of international growth, among 11 new positions within the company. Currently, there are no Velvet Tacos outside of the United States, but Dover hopes to change that.

“We believe the brand has international legs,” he said.

Many Velvet Taco locations are open until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., and late-night activity is now roughly at pre-pandemic levels, Dover said, while overall comparable store sales are “north of 20% right now.”

“People are coming back to restaurants,” he said. “We are open late at night. It was satisfying to see. This was the last part of our company to return and we are very optimistic.

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