What's Eric Eating Episode 183
The unfolding story of Torchy's taco explosion, plus Ben Berg's hot Heights takeover
On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Scott Hudler, chief marketing officer for Torchy's Tacos, joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the Austin-based restaurant's explosive growth. As Hudler explains, a recent $400 million private equity investment will take the company from its 84 present locations to 160 by the end of 2023.
The conversation touches on a number of reasons for all that success — everything from its signature queso and scratch-made margaritas to monthly specials that keep diners engaged. Hudler also talks about a career that's seen him work at a number of food brands, including Mars, Inc. and Dunkin' Donuts.
One area where Torchy's occasionally receives criticism is for the quality of its tortillas, but Hudler reports that's changing, too. The restaurant has begun to make them fresh at an increasing number of locations.
"Our goal is over time that we will have in all of our locations, that all of the tortillas will be made in-house," Hudler says. "We just think it's a much better experience. For Torchy's, it's a cool, fun, edgy brand, but if the food disappoints, we don't have a brand. That is a big focus for us is to upgrade our tortillas in all our locations."
Prior to the interview, co-host Michael Fulmer joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: Texas Monthly's list of the state's best new restaurants; the closure of Down House; and restaurateur Ben Berg's plans to open two new restaurants in The Heights and Timbergrove.
In the restaurants of the week segment, Fulmer and Sandler discuss their recent visit to The Taco Stand, the newly opened taqueria in The Heights from the owners of The Burger Joint. Then, they opine on whether a recent meal at Bludorn cements its status as one of Houston's best restaurants.