The most unlikely OC food success story in recent OC history just keeps getting better. Yesterday, it was announced that Naugles—the legendary Cal-Mex chain that Gen Xers and above fondly remember and which Christian Ziebarth brought back from the dead by taking on Del Taco in U.S. trademark court—is going to get franchised in a big way.
Ziebarth is teaming up with Newport Beach-based FranSmart (who are also behind the franchising of such millennial obsessions as 5 Guys Burgers, Slapfish, and the Halal Guys. “Fransmart feels deep rooted customer enthusiasm and brand passion, coupled with the recent success of the restaurant’s relaunch, will power Naugles to open over 1,000 units in the future,” read the press release. We'll see if they get THAT far—Del Taco, after all, only has about 550 locations. And the rest of the country has historically been leery of Cal-Mex cuisine.
Then again, Ziebarth has already made an incredible career out of besting skeptics, and he deserves all the luck of the world. We reached out to him for comment, and this is what the new Mr. Naugles says:
Naugles represents the best in fast food; it is fast food with dignity and integrity… how fast food should have always been. Millions recognize this and eagerly await the return of the quality and bold flavors they remember from both the Mexican and American menus. There is also a new generation of fans awaiting their chance to try what up to this point they had only heard about. Our deal with FranSmart helps us handle the unique situation of being a new company with a concept that already has a built-in and devoted fan base.
At the very least, there'll be more Naugles in OC outside of their Huntington Beach hotel stand and the Fountain Valley mothership. Good job, fam. Just remember: we deserve the new habanero hot sauce FOR LIFE.