Del Taco Restaurants Inc. (NASDAQ:TACO) closed its first quarter on a high note, with year-over-year increases in revenue and net income. And to help ensure encore performances for the next quarters, the company is reinventing an old favorite while taking a not-subtle jab at one of its prominent competitors.

Q1 Results: The Lake Forest, California-based company operates roughly 600 restaurants across 16 states. In its fiscal first quarter results published this week, Del Taco generated $115.5 million in total revenue, up 5.2% year-over-year, while company-operated restaurant sales were $103.6 million, a 3.2% growth one year earlier.

Also in the first quarter, net income totaled $2.6 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $102.5 million, or $2.76 per diluted share, in the fiscal first quarter of 2020. Adjusted net income was $2.5 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, compared to $300,000, or $0.01 per diluted share, one year earlier.

Speaking with Benzinga, Del Taco’s Chief Marketing Officer Tim Hackbardt credited a “big team effort on this one — everything from operations to marketing to our field folks. That’s the big secret: the folks in the field. And our franchisees wake up every single morning trying to do the right thing for the guest.”

During the quarter, two company-operated restaurants and three franchised restaurants opened for business while two franchised restaurants closed. Del Taco is projecting 12 restaurant openings in 2021 by franchisees, and Hackbardt is seeing a growing interest from potential franchise partners in the southeast.

“We have a great hub there with the Atlanta locations in Georgia,” he said. “We moved in as company-operated locations a number of years ago and have been expanding ever since out of that hub to other cities in the southeast.”

Looking back on the pandemic period, Hackbardt acknowledged there were some bright spots in an otherwise challenging time.

“We got very, very, very good at drive-thru,” he said. “We were always sort of a leader in speed, but then we focused on it even more. Fortunately, we had quite a bit of technology already set up and we

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