Jimboy’s Tacos is about to get its passport stamped. The Folsom-based company is setting up shop in India, with its first restaurant opening in New Delhi this fall and more locations such as Mumbai planned for the future.
A country with a growing appetite for fast food, India has welcomed McDonald’s, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken over the past decade. Jimboy’s – with about 40 locations regionally – saw a lack of Mexican food on the subcontinent and decided to act, partnering with the India-based Krrish group.
Jimboy’s in India will feature menu items tailored for the country’s spice-centric cuisine, while offering many of their longtime specialties.
The international move comes as the company embarks on a domestic expansion as well. Jimboy’s now can be found in Southern California as well as Nevada and Texas. The Bee asked Michael Freeman, Jimboy’s director of business development, for the details.
Q: How did an expansion into India come about?
A: In 2014, we began talking to two Indian brothers, Prakhar Gupta and Pranay Gupta (of the Krrish group), who called and asked about starting a franchise in India. So, we met at our Fairfield location and talked. Not long after, the Krrish group ... bought a franchise for entire Indian territory.
India has a huge population and a ton of wealth. And they have an emerging middle class with a huge emerging market for fast food. Ten to 15 years ago in India, only the wealthy went out to eat but now it’s become more mainstream. There really hasn’t been any Mexican food available up until this point, so Jimboy’s is a great fit.
Q: What modifications will be made to your Indian menu?
A: Jimboy’s will still absolutely be Mexican food, but we’ve just done an Indian twist on the menu to match the people’s needs and tastes. Our menu will have a mix of vegetarian and nonvegetarian options. There will be chicken but no beef and no pork. Beef is a big cultural no-no there, and India has one of the biggest Muslim populations, so we did away with pork.
In India, they have a huge love for street food, which is really heavy on every kind of spice imaginable. So we tried to incorporate that. If you went into our corporate store in Folsom, you’d find our new spicy masala taco. We developed it in response to our India launch, and it’s good indication of what you would find over there. It uses masala spice and traditional Indian cheese – and it’s vegetarian. So many people in the area have been asking for it, it is probably something we will incorporate into our staple menu in the U.S. as well.
Q: What challenges have you faced with this expansion?
A: Bringing in a chain restaurant to India, it’s really difficult to introduce consistency. ... Trucking is difficult because you’re sharing the road with herds of goats and other livestock. There are no tortilla factories that I’m aware of in India. There are restrictions on what can be shipped in and can’t be shipped in. Believe it or not, India and similar countries have more stringent guidelines on proving whether produce is GMO – they don’t want GMOs and want to use only produce from their own country.
Q: Do you foresee further international expansion?
A: Yes. We have taken a bit of a pause, but we are getting requests to look at different international areas on a regular basis. They come from places that you never would have thought like Fuji and Dubai. It’s amazing.
Director of Business Development, Jimboy’s Tacos
The Folsom-based company is expanding into India this fall with a tailor-made menu that includes a spicy masala taco.