Taco Cabana closed 19 locations Monday, including restaurants in Waco, College Station and Austin.

Most of the other closures were in Houston and North Texas.

The closures, effective immediately, “eliminate all stores with significant losses,” Fiesta Restaurant Group President and CEO Richard Stockinger said in a press release. Dallas-based Fiesta is the parent company of both Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical.



On Tuesday afternoon, employees at the closed Waco restaurant were cleaning and making final preparations to shutter the location, said the former restaurant manager, who asked not to be named. He said he had been manager at the 825 S. Sixth St. location four years. He declined additional comment, referring questions to a Taco Cabana media hotline, which did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Stockinger said in the press release that the 19 closures were of “underperforming restaurants in Texas.”

“These closures eliminate all stores with significant losses, which we expect will result in a highly viable portfolio of restaurants,” Stockinger said.

“Nearly all” employees at the closed restaurants will be offered positions at other Taco Cabana locations, according to the press release.

For at least two decades, the Waco restaurant has battled ever-growing competition in the fast-food corridor along the Interstate 35 access road, with Torchy’s Tacos, Taco Bell, Whataburger, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Sonic, Fazoli’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, McAlister’s Deli and others vying to win customers while ongoing interstate construction makes access to the area challenging.

The Waco Taco Cabana, along with 150 others in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, were remodeled in 2012 and 2013.

“We continue to make progress on sales building initiatives across both Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana in off-premise sales, including catering, online and delivery,” Stockinger said in the press release. “In addition, as our new senior management team enters their first full year together, we are optimistic about improving comparable restaurant sales at both brands in 2020.”

Taco Cabana was founded by Felix Stehling and his family in 1978. Its first store was a converted former Dairy Queen in San Antonio.

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