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Big Madre Tacos y Tortas

Big Madre Tacos y Tortas

Big Madre Tacos y Tortas

The Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association concept is “easy to execute.”

February 19, 2024

In a state known for its Tex-Mex cuisine, it only made sense for the Greater Houston Retailers Cooperative Association (GHRA) to provide an offering of its own. And it’s an offering GHRA CEO Brian Trout swears more than holds its own against the state’s other Tex-Mex offerings.

Big Madre Tacos y Tortas opened its first offering in 2018—now there are TK stores with TK on the way. (I can email Margaret closer to publication for updated numbers — when I interviewed Brian, he said there are 38 operations and that the organization planned to have 45-50 by the end of 2023.) The food counters are easily installed in Houston c-stores.

The idea behind Big Madre Tacos y Tortas was to offer authentic, full-service Mexican food in a convenient and easily accessible manner—and without the full-service costs. Information from the U.S. Census Bureau says Hispanic/Latino individuals make up almost 50% of Houston’s population.

The menu covers breakfast and lunch/dinner offerings in a variety of styles (tacos, burritos, bowls, quesadillas, and tortas) and a variety of fillings (chicken, beef, barbacoa, carne, chorizo; ham, egg, bacon, sausage, and potato). The brand was developed in-house and is helmed by chef “Captain” Glenn Cates. Because of the ease of operation, one or two people can run the entire kitchen—the produce and other items are prepackaged and delivered in ready-to-use fashion, while the proteins are cooked in store.

Trout said, “If you’re an independent operator and you franchise or license a concept, you’re paying a big fee upfront, and then you’re given up a portion—typically 10% of your revenue—as their commission. Plus you give up a couple more points on marketing, dollars, and things of that nature. So being a co-op and having low overhead, the cost to get into it is very marginal.”

He continued: “We have a very nominal [marked usage] fee that our members get… and it is based on their sales. We negotiate supply agreements for our members, and we are able to get some of that revenue share money, if you will, to help with marketing. So I mean, it’s like three points on their sales all-in versus the 12 or 13 of these other groups.”

The contractual relationship includes buying from GHRA’s authorized vendors—members get discounts and high-quality food; and the organization does the advertising and sets up Big Madre Tacos y Tortas on Uber Eats and DoorDash.

A number of GHRA members own multiple Big Madre Tacos y Tortas operations, and store owners and operators are “particularly fond of the seamless ease of operations, low barrier of entry, competitive cost, exceptional food quality, steadfast consistency, and access to continuing training and support,” according to information provided by GHRA.

Imran Ali, GHRA’s president, said Big Madre is helping members see the ease of operations for the association’s food concept service.

“[Big Madre Tacos y Tortas] kind of gives us an advantage on how we can move forward with trying to make sure that customers and clientele that we want to offer that are loyal to us and are supporting our brands,” Ali said.

Trout said he has members come up to him all the time to tell him how much they love the Big Madre Tacos y Tortas offering, including an owner who operates the counters in nine of his stores.

“He’s like, this is a great concept,” Trout said. “It’s fabulous. It’s easy to execute.”

Read more about GHRA and the Big Madre Tacos y Tortas offering in the February issue of NACS Magazine.

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