Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr, left, and Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel announce the opening of a satellite headquarters in Minneapolis focused on franchise relations at Taco John’s headquarters in Cheyenne. Nadav Soroker/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Since its inception in 1969, Taco John’s has expanded to nearly 400 locations in 23 states. On Monday, President and CEO Jim Creel announced the company’s plans to expand even farther with a new satellite office in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Creel said although the fast-food company’s home will “always” be Cheyenne, the new office allows employees to be closer to more than 200 franchise locations in the Midwest. It is slated to open in March.

“The last couple of years have been really good for Taco John’s, so it’s allowing us to make this investment and to move forward,” Creel said at a news conference Monday. “We really believe this is going to be the start of tremendous growth for us in the Midwest.”

The new location will mainly house franchisee-oriented operations like marketing and research and development. Currently, Creel said reaching those Midwest stores is inefficient and involves a great deal of travel for employees. The move allows for more interaction with stores near Minneapolis.

“The more time we spend with franchisees, the better the operations get,” Creel said. “This truly is an opportunity to be able to do that in a way we haven’t been able to before.”

A handful of employees will transfer to Minneapolis, but the majority of the Taco John’s operation will stay right here in Cheyenne. Creel, who was born and raised in Wyoming, emphasized that the company has no plans to move its headquarters.

“I’m really proud that Taco John’s will continue to be in Wyoming going forward,” Creel said. “This is just an opportunity for us to spur some growth in the chain, and when we do that, chances are we’ll see some growth in our offices here in the future.”

Over the past 50 years, Taco John’s has run its operations strictly from Wyoming. This office will be the first one located outside of the state, and Creel said the expansion was made possible because of a strategic plan designed about three years ago.

The company took a collaborative approach in creating the plan, which Creel said has paid off.

“Instead of the corporation telling them what to do, we all worked together to figure out what we needed to do to make the brand stronger,” Creel said.

The satellite office isn’t the only innovation to come from Taco John’s this year. The company released new uniforms, revamped its signs, improved its packaging and rolled out a new menu. Earlier this year, Taco John’s launched an “advanced establishment” in south Cheyenne to showcase those changes. That restaurant is at the intersection of South Greeley Highway and Fox Farm Road.

At the news conference, Mayor Marian Orr talked about how much value Taco John’s adds to Cheyenne’s business landscape.

“Certainly, Taco John’s is one of the most important businesses for the Cheyenne community,” Orr said. “For them to be growing into the heart of the country, in Minneapolis, to better serve the franchisees is only going to do great things for their business model.”

Orr also mentioned the millions of dollars Taco John’s has pumped back into the Cheyenne community through charitable giving and events, including Nachos Navidad, in which a portion of proceeds goes to a local charity of each franchise’s choosing.

“We are just so pleased they are expanding, yet staying here,” Orr said. “They continue to be such community partners, and I know that won’t be going away.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretMAustin.

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