How’d Tijuana Flats become Tijuana Flats? Funny story, really. Back in 1995, this college kid, Brian Wheeler, walked into a bar. Actually, a bunch of bars. And restaurants, too. At first, it was just harmless fun. But over time, the good times got the best of him and just going out no longer cut it. So Brian decided to open his own restaurant despite having never even worked in one before (brilliant, right?). Only problem was, Brian was broke. Luckily, his parents weren’t. And after much begging and pleading, his dad loaned him $20,000 & Brian opened the first Tijuana Flats in Winter Park, Florida.
While most college grads (yes, Brian graduated from UCF, or so he says) would be stoked just to own their own restaurant, deep down Brian had a burning desire to do more. Turns out, the burning was just hot sauce he’d eaten, but Brian saw it as a sign and created his own line of hot sauces shortly thereafter—the “Smack My Ass & Call Me Sally” brand, which includes some of the hottest sauces in the world.
In 1999, Brian’s success caught the eye of former restaurant industry hotshot Camp Fitch, who left retirement to become partner & chairman of Tijuana Flats. And Camp wasn’t the only one. Remember the dad who reluctantly loaned his son $20K? Yup, Chester Wheeler left a 30-year career at a Fortune 500 company to become CFO of Tijuana Flats. Since then, Tijuana Flats has grown to 100 restaurants in six very lucky states.
Since day one, Tijuana Flats has always given back to the community. But in January 2007, they created the Just in Queso Foundation to give back even more. Much more. Over $3,500,000 to date to help those in need.
So to all the college kids or parents of college kids out there, remember, success isn’t something you can gain overnight. It’s something you can gain over many nights at college bars.
RESPECT : We will always treat everyone in our company equally & with the utmost respect, regardless of their position, knowing that every individual has unique worth & that people are our most valuable resource. We will strive to listen, to lead by example, to keep communication doors open & to be fair & respectful in everything we do. We believe in, & genuinely care about, everyone on the team & are quick to lend support during challenging times, both personally & professionally. In all of our relationships with guests, partners, vendors & others, we will practice the same level of respect & fairness we would want to receive ourselves.
QUALITY : We will not compromise our high standards when providing our guests with a quality, unique dining experience. We are dedicated to serving only freshly prepared food, to keeping our restaurants spotless & to providing exceptional, friendly service at all times. A high-quality work environment is equally important to us & we work hard to provide excellent training, regular feedback & a good quality of life for our teams. Professionalism will mark how we conduct ourselves in all our business affairs, earning Tijuana Flats the reputation as an honorable, first-class company.
OPPORTUNITY : Creating opportunities is how we grow. We look beyond the surface to tap the potential of people we work with, nurturing their development & opening career opportunities for them. It energizes us to help our teammates achieve great performance, advancement & financial growth. We believe in creating various ownership opportunities to help our partners & teammates attain financial success.
INTEGRITY : Honesty & candor will govern both our words & actions. We will operate our business with the utmost integrity; we will keep our promises & do what is right. There will be no hidden agendas at our company: communications will be open, & we expect any issues to be brought to our attention fully & quickly. Integrity will guide how we run our restaurants, how we conduct ourselves as professionals & how we treat all of our business relationships.
FUN : We will have fun working in our restaurants & our guests will feel the high-energy, yet laid-back atmosphere. We love being on the edge. We are cool, but not trendy; crazy, but not offensive. We prefer efficient controls to inflexible rules. Most of all, we believe in the power of laughter, teamwork & friendly smiles.
COMMUNITY : We will actively participate in & support the greater community, lending our time & resources to worthy causes. We will be quick to step forward to help others & embrace our responsibility as a business leader. Our culture will be defined not only by financial success, but by a willingness to do the right thing