Chef Jose Garces’ Buena Onda set to expand nationally in franchise deal with Ballard Brands

Buena Onda, Philadelphia’s Baja-themed taqueria, is set to expand to other cities across the United States, chef Jose Garces announced Wednesday.

Although Buena Onda’s flagship location at 1901 Callowhill St. in Fairmount is currently the only one of its kind, two more are expected in the area by July in Rittenhouse and Radnor, Delaware County. Two more are on the way, Garces said Wednesday, and five total locations in Greater Philadelphia are expected by the end of the year.

This national expansion is due in part to the launch of a franchise by Garces and Ballard Brands, a family hospitality business created by former Smoothie King franchisees. Since then, the company has worked to franchise businesses such as New Orleans-based PJ’s Coffee.

“Our team has worked hard to develop a national expansion strategy in partnership with Ballard Brands since the start of the pandemic,” Garces said. “It’s been great collaborating with them to bring Buena Onda and other concepts to new places and reach new audiences. It’s exciting to bring my recipes and vision to fans and foodies across the country. .”

Garces noted that the first franchising documents were complete and Buena Onda was officially a national brand. Now that franchise opportunities are available, Ballard Brands and Garces’ goal is to award 25 Buena Onda franchise licenses by the end of 2022.

Garces has worked with Ballard Brands since 2018, when the company acquired the chef’s restaurant group after filing for bankruptcy.

Along with new franchise opportunities, Buena Onda is getting a makeover. The new design and updated menu will debut this summer when the Rittenhouse and Radnor locations open. The restaurant’s Fairmount location will also undergo a renovation to match the new look.

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Chef Jose Garces, who opened the Baja-inspired Buena Onda in 2015, is set to expand the taco spot nationwide with the launch of a franchise announced Wednesday. Ballard Brands, which is partnering with Garces for the expansion, said its goal is to award 25 franchise licenses by the end of 2022.

The basics of the menu and design will remain the same. Garces’ surf-inspired decor, paired with fish tacos, quesadillas and homemade guacamole, will play a larger role on the menu. Still, some new additions include take-out salsa, salads, and agua frescas.

The new designs will focus more on the surf-shack element, trying to create a feeling of ‘endless summer’ strolling as guests prepare to order.

Each new location will offer alcoholic beverages but no formal bar. Instead, wine pairings will be mostly canned and bottled, with a particular focus on Buena Onda brand margaritas in a variety of flavors. The new locations will also emphasize pickup and delivery in addition to seated service.

“Buena Onda is designed to provide a unique experience for diners in the fast-casual market with a delicious chef-inspired menu and popular Baja-style libations,” said David Mesa, director of development at Ballard Brands.

Franchise opportunities are currently available and investors are invited to seminars hosted by Garces at The Old Bar every third Thursday of every month until the end of the summer. Garces said he expects the first franchises to be announced by September.

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