Friday, January 14, 2011

How Taco Bueno is Becoming More Bueno.

Right.  This is supposed to be an aviation blog.  Sorry, but I'm always thinking about Marketing and Branding.  Many of my readers know of my love for Boeing and United (and my brand love for Southwest), but only some of you know of my love for Taco Bueno.  In fact, I would often be referred to as a Bueno Head.

Taco Bueno is a company that was born out of a desire to make great Tex-Mex food. It has gone through a series of changes over the past ten years.

This is the CKE version of Bueno

The first change came after the Taco Bueno was purchased by CKE Restaurants.  CKE was responsible for creating the first new look of Taco Bueno.  With that change came a new POS system and a brand that liked to scream "It's More Bueno!" 

It was during this time that I first worked for Taco Bueno.  I want to make it clear that working there was one of the greatest things in my life.  I enjoyed the process of cooking high-quality food and serving customers fast.  

The second change came after Taco Bueno became an independent company once again.  Bueno realized that to grow quickly they had to open up to franchising.  So they did.  Bueno spread the midwest quickly.  They also unleashed a new look for their store.

The new Bueno was a little classier and came with some new food options.  Bueno was determined to grow their business and create a restaurant that could compete with Taco Bell (and, Lord willing, destroy the bell).  

A few weeks ago I was sent an email from the Bueno Offices in Texas telling me about a redone store here in the Oklahoma City area.  At first look, I was underwhelmed.  I wrote a long email to the marketing department sharing with them about my thoughts and concerns about where Bueno was headed.  But to be fair, I had not yet been to the new Bueno.  

Welcome to the new Bueno.
The New Taco Bueno Mexican Grille
When I first arrived at the new Bueno I was very impressed with the  building itself.  The new structure looks classy and well designed.  But the inside is what really impressed me.

At the old Taco Bueno you would order and then wait for your name or number to be called.  You would bus your own table.  It was very normal for a fast food joint.  But the new Bueno was so much better.

The menu is much cleaner looking, and includes a digital display for new and limited time only options.  Instead of telling you your order number, they give you a table number so that your food can be delivered to you.    The salsa bar looks much nicer.  And the staff will even pick up your dirty dishes for you.  Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that.  You get real plates, not just something that you throw away.  So Bueno is also becoming greener.

Bueno's New Menu
There are a few other things that you should know about the new Bueno.  It includes free wifi.  It has TVs around to enjoy the game or watch the news.  The interior is laid out to allow for more privacy from other patrons.

The new Bueno is the kind of place that I would spend hours just hanging out at (and scarfing down as many tacos as I can).

But I did have one complaint.  For those familiar with the Bueno menu, I ordered a Beef Nacho Salad.  The salad came in a basket (with many holes) which would have allowed my queso, chili sauce, and original red salsa to spill all over the table.  So, maybe Bueno should rethink that.

Overall, Bueno is becoming a hip, clean, and welcoming place to spend a real family dinner without feeling like you're being rushed through a fast food joint.  Great Job Bueno!

The new Salsa Bar
Notice the TVs and the new signage

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

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