Taco Rey is excited and delighted to announce that we are still family-owned, but the family just got a whole lot bigger!
Our family-friendly, hometown Tex-Mex restaurant has officially joined forces with the Neches Restaurant Group, which also owns and operates Crown Pizza and Willy Burger.
The restaurants have a lot in common given that the restaurants are all locally-owned, family-owned, and uniquely located within Southeast Texas neighborhoods. They also share many business traits such as customer loyalty, customer profiles, price points, and visions of growth and development.
“With aligned values and vision, the restaurants seemed like a natural, wonderful fit,” says Collazo. “We make each other stronger without changing who we are individually.”
The addition of Taco Rey and our award-winning, popular Tex-Mex favorites (like our seasoned beef tacos, signature salsa and queso, fajita quesadillas, and margaritas) gives the group of craft burgers (Willy Burger) and Neapolitan craft pizzas (Crown Pizza) another flavor to the offering. Also, with restaurants located in Beaumont and Katy, Texas, Taco Rey adds a great footprint further south in Jefferson County as well as a boost of industry experience, buying power, 62 years of community leadership, and customer reach.
Taco Rey gains more resources with a full, growing team of operations and marketing, added market reach, and growth opportunities under the umbrella of Neches Restaurant Group.
In the new partnership, Collazo will remain owner of Taco Rey, keeping the family-owned legacy intact while also serving as Managing Partner and Chief Operations Officer within the Neches Restaurant Group. All three restaurants will benefit from his expertise and involvement.
“Taco Rey has been in my family for over 60 years,” Collazo says. “I don’t take that lightly. So for me to join this group, it’s like sharing a part of my heart. And there’s no better match for Taco Rey than this group with Willy and Crown. I am blessed to work with good people with a shared vision.”
Owner and CEO of the group, Dallon James, sees a bright future with Collazo and Taco Rey as evident from the working relationship thus far.
James says, “Simply put: we’re joining forces and we’re excited to be all under one umbrella now. Johnny still owns Taco Rey (and food truck). We’re still family-owned. The family’s just bigger! Now we get to pool our resources and have a full team working together for more efficiency.”
The new-look group has another interesting common trait that exemplifies the commitment to community and personal relationships.
“We’re all PN-G guys,” says James. “Our executive team all went through Port Neches-Groves around the same time. We all know each other, our families, friends…we have strong roots and a shared work ethic that’s hard to ignore. I graduated in ’02, Johnny graduated in ’99. We have Lance LaRue (’98) as CMO and Alden Pond (’01) as our Executive Chef and Product Officer. Plus, our new Beaumont GM is another PN-G grad, Chrystal Hebert Lundy.”
Collazo adds that even though the PN-G connection was not planned, it’s a pleasant surprise and certainly speaks to the values instilled and supported in them.
“Yeah! How about that? We’ve all lived or worked elsewhere over the years, and it comes full circle here where we bring our own areas of expertise,” he says. “We absolutely recognize that a lot of good people here have invested in us from a young age, so we have this shared background…so we know what we’re all capable of. We have a high bar of quality and respect, and we want to make folks proud.”
The group is currently working to open another Crown Pizza restaurant. The second location will be in Katy, Tx. It is currently in development and expected to open later this month.
Also, the team has already begun work on developing a new Tex-Mex street tacos restaurant. Collazo says they’ve recently worked up recipe ideas in a Houston test kitchen and are equal parts inspired and encouraged. The concept will include some signatures from Taco Rey along with a lot of new, creative twists to compliment the craft style and counter-service models of Willy Burger and Crown Pizza.
Learn more at www.eatwillyburger.com/blog