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Inspire Brands Makes R Taco Rusty Again


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You heard it here first: Renaming Rusty Taco to R Taco was a terrible idea, especially since Rusty was the name of the taco brand’s late founder, Rusty Fenton. As one of the first public-facing changes under the new Inspire Brands parent company, the 27-unit fast-casual brand has reverted to its old name—Rusty Taco.

Rusty Taco co-founder Denise Fenton said the wheels started turning about going back to the original name shortly after the brand joined the Inspire Brands group of restaurants last February.

“I came into the original Rusty Taco in Dallas, Texas, late in the afternoon one day after we were acquired, and I looked up and saw Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown with a group of people walking in the door. I had no idea they were stopping by the restaurant,” Fenton said. “I introduced myself, and Paul said he loved the name Rusty Taco. I think he saw this as a brand with a story behind it. There was a man named Rusty who had a dream and chased that dream. Paul is very connected to people and their story, and he took the time to find out ours.”

The Rusty Taco story began with Rusty and his wife Denise in 2010, when they opened the first location of their taco stand on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Texas.That’s why the official kickoff party to relaunch the Rusty Taco name will take place at the original location in Dallas on September 8. Rusty’s best friend, Jayson Bales, will play live music during the event.

“Jayson knew this dream of Rusty’s. He asked Jayson to play at the grand opening, and he played at every anniversary until Rusty passed away,” Fenton said. “He’s coming back to honor Rusty’s memory.”

Following Rusty’s passing in 2013, Rusty Taco has continued to thrive, expanding to 27 locations in six states. The brand prides itself on one of Rusty’s favorite sayings — “Tacos are the most important meal of the day” — and brings this passion to life by serving authentic street-style tacos made with fresh ingredients alongside margaritas and beer.

Click HERE for my profile of the brand from late 2017, and HERE for my evergreen rant about what I called “a strange, rusty rebranding” of a brand I’ve enjoyed for many years in my home city of Minneapolis.  

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is editor-in-chief of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
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Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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