Pancheros Mexican Grill

Pancheros Mexican Grill, Inc.
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1992[1]
Founder Rodney Anderson
Headquarters Coralville, Iowa, U.S.
Number of locations
Area served
United States
Key people
Rodney Anderson (President)

Pancheros Mexican Grill is a chain of fast casual Tex Mex restaurants in the United States serving Mexican-style cuisine. The chain was founded in 1992 by Rodney Anderson when he opened two units: one in Iowa City, Iowa (near the University of Iowa campus), and one in East Lansing, Michigan (near the Michigan State University campus). There are currently 67 units throughout the country.[2] Pancheros is known for making their tortillas on site, at the time the order is placed.[3] In 2006, Sports Illustrated voted Pancheros the most popular place to eat when bars in Iowa City close.[4]

Pancheros serves burritos, tacos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, and salads. The salsas, guacamole, and queso dips are made on-site, daily. The restaurant fits into the quick-serve category, offering both quick service and a higher quality of food than typical fast-food restaurants. Customers start their order by selecting a menu item. Next, the tortilla is pressed fresh on a tortilla press. The customers then choose from the ingredients to be added. Pancheros' main national rivals are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Qdoba Mexican Grill.[5]


Pancheros in Waterloo, Iowa

In 1992, Anderson, after just receiving his MBA from the University of Chicago, opened the first Pancheros with capital made from the stock market. The first store was opened in Iowa City, next to the University of Iowa campus. The next 10 locations opened in similar midwestern college towns. It wasn't until 1998 that Pancheros was revamped to include the addition of a dough press for the famous fresh-pressed tortillas, and an updated, more upscale restaurant decor. In 2003 its first non-corporate store opened. Bob the Tool was first introduced in restaurants in 2007. Bob became a celebrated part of the Pancheros experience, mixing burritos before rolling them and allowing for each ingredient to be evenly distributed across the burrito. In 2012, Pancheros underwent another small change to their branding, altering their logo marks slightly, and introducing their emblem logo.


An interior view of a Pancheros

Pancheros stores have a warm, industrial look. Exposed ductwork, track lighting and metal accents are softened with warm tones, colorful tile and padded booths [6] Pancheros average seating capacity is 70, and no units have drive-thrus. Some stores do have patios.[7]


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