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Paul Murphy, President and CEO of Del Taco Restaurants Franchise

Paul J.B. Murphy, III, President and Chief Executive Officer of Del Taco Restaurants, Inc., is responsible for leading his team in developing and executing a bulletproof strategy that delivers positive results for all of Del Taco’s stakeholders. Since joining Del Taco in 2009, Murphy has taken the over 50-year old brand to new heights, including leading the recent transition from a privately-held to a publicly-traded company in 2015. Today, Murphy sits at the helm of a company that employs over 7,000 people, all of whom he believes have contributed to Del Taco’s success.

Murphy earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Washington & Lee University. He worked with Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. for 12 years, where he served in a variety of roles including President and CEO. During this tenure, Murphy gained extensive industry knowledge and honed his skills in management and leadership within the quick service sector.

Franchise Expo: Tell us about the Del Taco franchise concept.

Paul J.B. Murphy: Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. is the second largest Mexican-American Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain by units in the United States with nearly 550 restaurants in 16 states. In 2015, Del Taco transitioned into a public company, poising the West Coast icon with a rich 52-year history to strengthen its national presence as a leader. It also has enabled us to fortify our QSR+ value proposition which combines the best attributes from both Fast Casual and QSRs to deliver our guests high-quality food they have come to expect with the speed, convenience, and value they demand.

Del Taco offers Mexican and American favorites that are made to order with fresh ingredients in every restaurant’s working kitchen. This on-site prep of slow cooking beans from scratch, grilling our carne asada fresh in house and hand-grating cheddar cheese from 40 lb. blocks daily, while still providing the best value and variety in the industry, is strongly resonating with a broad base of consumers. From a 30-year history of serving breakfast to its unmatched value menu offerings and premium product platforms, Del Taco has something for every taste and occasion.

FE: How and when did you become involved with Del Taco franchise?

PM: I joined Del Taco as CEO in 2009. Before that, I spent nearly three decades in various roles in every aspect of operations. The knowledge and experience gained with each position helped hone my management skills, shape my business philosophies and develop a leadership style required to oversee, nurture and lead a national QSR brand.

FE: What was your background prior to joining Del Taco?

PM: Prior to my role at Del Taco, I was involved with Einstein Noah Restaurant Group for 12 years and served as president and chief executive officer from 2003-2008, overseeing more than 600 Einstein Bros. Bagels, Noah’s New York Bagels and Manhattan Bagels in 36 states. I also held positions for Gulfstream Bagels, Boston Market, and Bennigan’s restaurants.

FE: What are some of the advantages in being a Del Taco franchisee?

PM: Del Taco has a unique brand legacy, an experienced leadership team, stable company financials and multi-platform marketing campaigns that speak to today’s consumers. As a result of our merger with Levy Acquisition Corporation, Del Taco is poised to grow with even more resources and opportunities to improve many areas including operations, product innovation and support, etc. – all elements designed to exceed guests’ evolving expectations and demands.

We set up our franchisees for success with an unparalleled level of support, including providing financing references, site selection and construction assistance, extensive hands-on management and crew training and new store opening support. Del Taco’s corporate store ownership also means we have “skin in the game” and understand what’s important to our franchise partners.

With exclusive development territories available throughout the US in new and existing markets, Del Taco is seeking qualified franchisee candidates and offering incentives for veterans, minorities and new market development. We have a proven track record of success in new market entry, and will soon open restaurants in new states such as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina in addition to continuing to build on existing markets.

FE: Who is your ideal franchisee?

PM: The ideal Del Taco franchisee is someone who is passionate about exceptional customer service. We like to align with entrepreneurial, like-minded professionals looking to grow and succeed with an exciting brand. Experienced multi-unit restaurant operators or investors who will partner with a qualified candidate as well as those who are committed to developing at least two restaurants are the long term relationships we’re interested in as we execute our strategic growth plans.

FE: Tell us a little about the Fast-food restaurant market?

PM: The restaurant industry is fast-paced and continuously changing. Del Taco is constantly evolving to meet our guests’ tastes and demands and in doing so, we occupy this unique QSR+ space in the category that satisfies a broad spectrum of different occasions and demographics. It’s a rewarding experience to build on a brand with a rich history by continuing to serve fresh food at a great value, while also introducing exciting menu innovations to appeal to the next generation of diners.

In recent years, Del Taco launched healthier menu options such as turkey tacos, fresh sliced avocado, and handcrafted ensaladas — all premium items that are made-to-order with fresh ingredients. We still offer guests the best value and variety in the industry with our “Buck & Under” menu, but we’ve struck this perfect balance which allows us to serve the Fast Casual quality food our guests’ demand at a QSR price point and convenience of a drive-thru.

FE: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

PM: I learn from the talented team I work with every day at Del Taco. I have the opportunity to collaborate with so many great minds. Everyone brings something valuable to the table whether it be creativity, strategy, or genuine passion for the brand. In 2015, Del Taco became a publicly-traded company which was a huge milestone for a 50-year-old company to achieve. This success is a direct reflection of a company-wide commitment and I’m continuously inspired by watching those around me grow and succeed with a brand we all believe in.

FE: Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?

PM: Richard Meyer, a colleague of mine from the S&A system, taught me the significance of a strong work ethic but also the importance of a good heart. I’m a firm believer in the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. It’s simple but a powerful pillar of good ethics, good business and good people.

FE: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

PM: My advice is to be passionate about what you do and who you work with. Be prepared to work hard but if you believe in what the brand stands for, have the right support team, and a desire to succeed, it won’t feel like work.

FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Del Taco franchise would be a great opportunity for someone?

PM: Del Taco occupies a highly desired position in the industry by delivering food quality that is very competitive with the likes of Fast Casual, but offering it at a value that is consistent with QSRs. We’re doing things differently by serving a menu generally priced lower than fast food, but one that is authentically prepared in our working kitchens with fresh ingredients every day. This unique attribute sets us apart from the competition.
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