Taco Bueno is closing its five Colorado Springs restaurants Monday, just 2 1/2 years after the Texas-based chain came to town.

Taco Bueno has decided "to focus on strategic growth" and made the "very difficult decision" to close its Springs locations, Sarah Beddoe, the chain's chief marketing officer, said Wednesday from the company's suburban Dallas offices.

"This is a broader strategic decision that we're making in order to position the business for future growth," Beddoe said.

She declined to elaborate, and also didn't comment on how many employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closures.

Taco Bueno customers - loyalists call themselves "Buenoheads" - were being informed Wednesday of the stores' imminent closing by employees. A manager at Taco Bueno's location at 3220 Austin Bluffs Parkway, who asked not to be identified, said sales have been poor at the restaurants.

Upper management told employees that "Colorado basically rejected Taco Bueno, the brand," the manager said. That contrasts with what Taco Bueno officials had predicted before they opened their first Colorado Springs location in June 2015.

"We're really excited because we're confident our brand will travel," the company's then-CEO had said about expanding to Colorado Springs.

Each Taco Bueno employed roughly a dozen people, the manager of the Austin Bluffs location said. Based on that number, at least 60 employees are losing their jobs.

Taco Bueno billed itself as quick-serve - not fast food - because it made its food fresh instead of reheating it. Its chili sauces, heavy use of cheese and other ingredients gave its burritos, quesadillas and other items a Tex-Mex taste, Taco Bueno said. It faced plenty of competition in the Springs, including national and local favorites Taco Bell, Taco Star, LaCasita, Qdoba and Chipotle.

In addition to Austin Bluffs Parkway, Taco Bueno's locations - all of which operated out of newly constructed buildings - were at 7970 N. Academy Blvd., 6510 Tutt Blvd. and 4530 Hilton Parkway. The fifth and most recent location opened in May 2016 at 383 Spectrum Loop, in the Polaris Pointe shopping center. All restaurants had indoor seating, but relied heavily on drive-thrus for sales.

Taco Bueno has no other Colorado locations and the chain isn't shutting restaurants in any other cities, Beddoe said.

Taco Bueno was founded in 1967 and now has more than 170 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri. It's owned by TPG Growth, a California-based private equity and venture capital firm that purchased the chain in 2015.


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Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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