Investor Anand Gala has taken a minority stake in fast-casual quesadilla concept, Dillas Quesadillas, the chain announced Tuesday.
Gala Capital Partners will help the seven-unit, Dallas-based brand launch a franchising operation and grow nationwide, co-founder founder Kyle Gordon said. The amount of the investment was not disclosed, but Gordon said it was a “multi-million dollar” deal.
Gala, a multi-chain franchisee, is also the CEO of better-burger brand Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes, which he acquired in 2017. He has also been involved with CiCi’s Pizza, Applebee’s, Jack in the Box, Del Taco and Famous Dave’s.
“We really need to find a partner who had been there-done that and had experience,” Gordon said. “We just got a call and just really clicked about the business and our core values.”
Other potential investors, Gordon said, demanded a majority stake in Dillas or gave the impression they’d sell the chain in a handful of years.
“That is not something I can put on the white board for the team,” he said.
Gordon founded Dillas Quesadillas in 2013 with his wife, Maggie Gordon, after growing up as a kid who only ate quesadillas and chicken fingers.
He wondered why nobody had started a fast-casual brand based around quesadillas, which are relatively easy to prepare and are highly customizable.
“Gala Capital Partners invests in businesses and brands with great people, passion and products,” Gala said in a statement. “Dillas Quesadillas is definitely one of the best examples we have seen embodying all of these attributes.”
Dillas is slated to open six new restaurants this year and up to a dozen in 2023. Gordon said he hopes to have franchising documents finalized by this summer.
“That’s really going to be the mass acceleration of our growth,” he said.
Dillas locations are about 2,200- to 2,500-square feet and all but one have a drive-thru. Going forward, all future locations will have drive-thrus, Gordon said.
Currently, about 85% of all of Dilla’s orders are off-premise. But Gordon said it’s important for the brand to be a community gathering place, so he likes to have a dining room with about 60 seats.
“We do so many fundraisers and meet-ups and church events,” he said. “Our build-outs are very nice, rich woods and metals, not a cheap fast-food experience.”
Operationally, the chain has figured out how to start a large number of quesadillas on the grill, get the cheese melted and tortilla browned, before adding custom toppings. That allows the drive-thru time to be under four minutes, he said.
Customers can choose from a menu of quesadilla builds or create their own, adding inventive items like french fries and house-smoked brisket to their entrees.
“It’s such a fantastic vehicle,” he said. “It’s almost like a pizza but folded, so you can go nuts in there.”