Salsarita’s new COO leads a team introducing new products to the menu including MorningStar Farms Veggie Chorizo ​​Crumbles

Merrick McKinney, Chief Operating Officer, Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill.

Salsarita's new COO leads a team introducing new products to the menu including MorningStar Farms Veggie Chorizo ​​CrumblesCharlotte, NC ( Merrick McKinnie has become addicted to the restaurant industry while doing the simplest of tasks. He was moving tables while attending the University of Mississippi. More than two decades later, the 47-year-old McKinney still loves the restaurant industry and doesn’t see himself doing anything else.

“At first, I was attracted to the opportunity to earn a little extra money, but once I got there, it was a great experience,” he recalls. “I loved working with a team and that is why I changed my major to Business Administration to pursue a career in this industry.”

McKinney never looked back. Over the next 20 years, Merrick helped build an extremely large multi-unit franchise operation into 64 McAlister’s Deli locations, 14 MOD Pizza locations and 73 Sonic locations among other acquisitions.

Today, he is the chief operating officer of Fresh Mexican Salsarita BBQa casual chain with more than 84 locations in 18 states, is an attractive brand for multi-unit and multi-unit operators looking for a Tex-Mex brand that consistently outperforms the fast-casual industry year after year.

But successful chains can’t attract new franchisees without drawing in a large group of loyal customers, and Salsarita has just received confirmation of its continued success in the latter. In December, Salsarita is named Newsweek list of America’s Favorite Restaurants for 2023, which highlights the nation’s major restaurant chains based on an independent survey of customers and employees. Of the 16 classes, only 220 series are recognised. Salsarita has 5 stars in the Tex-Mex category.

“Of course, it’s great to be rated 5 stars by a publication like Newsweek, which is an American institution,” said McKinney, who has been commissioned and has achieved such accomplishments as:

  • Update, develop and enhance all training tools to become a world-class training organization.
  • Implement innovative programs and programs to support operations and improve cost control procedures.
  • Build relationships with vendor partners to help foster efficiencies in operations that will avoid commodity price hikes and labor challenges.

“He did that and so much more,” said Salsarita CEO Phil Friedman, who said McKinney’s leadership helped him focus fully on his role as CEO.

“Merrick came on board at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak and immediately stabilized relationships with franchisees, store management, and staff.” Since he’s been in every aspect of the industry, it’s easy for him to put himself in almost everyone’s position to help them. in solving problems.”

Not only is McKinnie resting on his laurels in the new year, he’s making sure Salsarita maintains its status as a customer favorite. The chain recently reached an agreement with MorningStar Farms® to offer Veggie Chorizo ​​Crumbles, a unique and delicious plant-based protein, as a filling option for many of its menu items. It will range from $10 to $12.00 for the customer to add to the dish.

“Consumers of all ages are looking for opportunities to eat more plant-based meals for a variety of reasons, and we think our customers will be pleased to see that we offer MorningStar Farms® Chorizo ​​Crumbles as an exciting addition to our existing menu,” said McKinney.

Friedman added, “Merrick worked daily and tirelessly with Gordon Foodservice, our distributors, to keep all of Salsarita’s food, packaging, and operating supplies stocked during a crucial period when the entire industry was experiencing supply chain problems. He fit in perfectly with our executive team, our CEO and CEO.” Financial, and as the Chief Operating Officer, I am confident that he will lead us to a very successful future.

About salsarita

Founded in Charlotte, NC in 2000, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina (now Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill) serves Mexican fare like six flavorful homemade salsas, custom burritos, tacos, nachos, and fresh-to-order salads with a wide variety of toppings. options. Proteins, toppings and fillings. Salsarita was acquired by franchise industry veteran Phil Friedman in 2011 and operates 84 locations in 18 states, including 10 company-owned. For more information visit www.salsaritas.comLike us on Facebook at And follow us on Twitter and Instagram @employee.

Rhonda Sanderson
[email protected]

Merrick McKinney
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