Baja Fresh is a chain of fast-casual Tex Mex restaurants founded in Newbury Park, California in 1990 and headquartered in Irvine, California. The chain emphasizes fresh ingredients, and each restaurant features a self-serve salsa bar.
The chain operates 256 restaurants in 29 states. Internationally, two stores were opened in Dubai in 2010, including Dubai Mall and Deira City Centre, and a single store opened in Singapore in 2012
Competitors include California Tortilla, Panchero's Mexican Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Moe's Southwest Grill, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, Tijuana Flats.
In 1990, Jim and Linda Magglos took out a third mortgage on their home and opened the first Baja Fresh in Newbury Park, California in the Conejo Valley. Franchising began in 1995, and the chain had expanded to 31 outlets by 1997. In 1998, the Magglos worked with Greg Dollarhyde and Pete Siracusa, who recapitalized the parent company, acquired venture capital and bought shares from outside holders to take control of Baja Fresh. Dollarhyde became CEO with Siracusa as Chairman and Magglos as President, they then grew the chain from 45 locations in 1998 to 249 stores.
In 2002, Wendy's International purchased Baja Fresh for $275 million. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Wendy's, the 249 restaurant chain saw consistently declining same store sales. In 2006, Wendy's sold the roughly 300-location Baja Fresh chain for $31 million to a private investor consortium that operates other restaurants, including Sweet Factory, La Salsa, Cinnabon and Denny's. The consortium is led by David Kim, who took on the role of CEO (Appearing on Season 2 Episode 20 Undercover Boss) of the company.
In 2009, Baja Fresh moved its corporate headquarters from Thousand Oaks to Cypress, California, and closed all locations in central Ohio. Between 2009 and 2010, the chain closed stores in Berkeley, Pasadena and Torrance, California. In late 2011, the company moved its main corporate office from Cypress to Irvine. In early 2012, the chain closed its store in Newbury Park, California although this was a different location in Newbury Park than the original site of the first Baja Fresh. On April 12, 2013 Baja Fresh closed all 5 locations in Phoenix, Arizona without notice. On April 5, 2012, David Kim stepped down from his position as company CEO. His position is resumed by company president Chuck Rink, who now holds both titles.
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