Connect
To Top

Meet Frank Vizcarra of LOLA 55

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Vizcarra.

Frank, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Born in Tijuana, Mexico. Raised by a single mother in the then poorest neighborhood-started working at 10 years old selling eggs door to door before school. Excelled in school. Moved to America in 1973, I was 18 years old. Learned English and enrolled as a freshman at Lane Community College in Eugene, OR. Discovered as a soccer player by Varsity Coach. Offered a full soccer scholarship to Princeton-was not admitted, short one tenth on my GPA. Ended up at Ohio University, one year then transferred to The Ohio State University. MVP all four years, Captain three years. Graduated with a BS in Education.

Professional soccer for five years, “79-“83, Columbus, OH, Denver and San Diego. Joined Pizza Hut as Operations Trainee, there two years. Joined McDonald’s Corporation in ’85.

Rose from Store Manager to Corporate VP Chief of Strategy Restaurant Support Group (Global Operations). Held many other VP roles prior to that. Including Chief of Strategy, Franchise Relations, Innovation and Chief of Staff for McDonald’s USA. Led the team that designed the turn-around strategy in 2002. Retired from MCD in 2006. In 2006 Founded The Vizcarra Consulting Group-assist companies with strategy, operations, and executive performance. 2010 investor in Tender Greens and became advisor/mentor to founders-helped them with infrastructure build-out, operations, executive development, brought in Union Square Hospitality Group ( Danny Mayer) and Alliance Capital as investors. Joined Del Taco’ BOD and guided their most recent turn-around.

2007 co-founded the College Success Program at Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), $20,000 four year scholarships to help the underprivileged student break the cycle of poverty through higher education. 2009 joined Salvation Army National Advisory Board.

2015 with two children, Brie and Nathan, began research in the taco space, visited and tasted the food, at the time in over 90 taco concepts (have visited over 120 places total since then), and Mexican cuisine concepts in the U.S. and Mexico. The identified gap in the market-high quality preparation-fine dining quality, chef-driven at a good value in an appealing tastefully designed setting with a fast-casual service model that incorporates a high level of hospitality. Also noticed that young well trained Mexican chefs were modernizing Mexican cuisine while honoring the old traditions. LOLA 55 was born.

We decided to develop a menu that combines the traditional flavors of Mexico in a composition that draws particular attention to the subtle flavors, sophisticated techniques and quality ingredients that are often drowned in a spicy salsa, shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese with the contemporary new flavors inspired from a new breed of young, creative, classically trained chefs from Oaxaca, Baja and Mexico City. To help us with this we hired chef Drew Bent June 2016, highly recommended to us by Erik Oberholtzer, c0-founder Tender Greens. To help further enhance Chef Drew’s knowledge and understanding of traditional and modern Mexican cuisine, we sent him to Oaxaca to spend time in the kitchens of some of the best chefs, Luis Arellano, Hugo Arnaud, Celia Florian. He also spent two weeks with René Redzepi at his pop-up in Tulum.

To develop our menu, we established a collaborative model that allows us to capitalize on the experience gained from the research and the diversity of skills from our team. This model also includes the discipline of focus groups and making adjustments based on the feedback. The entire menu is better because of this approach.

Has it been a smooth road?
No, it has not been a smooth road. In the beginning, it was just me and my two children. We then allowed four other people to join us including our first chef. Everything was going fine, the food was terrific and felt good about the direction we were taking. Then our chef decided that he wanted to enhance his side of the financial deal and unfortunately we could not come to an agreement that would be a win-win and parted ways.

This happened as we were ready to sign a lease in March of 2016. The search for a new chef and seeing much of the work done the prior 12 months disappear caused tension in the team and we went back to just my children and I again. We had to design a whole new menu and put together a new support team. The construction of our new restaurant has been plagued with ongoing design and construction delays-four to five months. We are finally opening the second week of August.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the LOLA 55 story. Tell us more about the business.
We are hoping that our thesis for a new an exciting Taco experience delivers to the customer on all the things that the research told us were important to them: Great food made with quality ingredients, generous portions, great taste, Comfortable setting, great hospitality, all at a surprising value can get three tacos and a soft drink for $12.00.

We want to be known for great tasting food at a good value in a comfortable cool fun setting and surprising hospitality.

I am most proud of the ability of our team to openly collaborate to produce great food and focus on what’s best for the company and put egos aside.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the Mexican food concept continuing to grow throughout the country. The current proliferation of Mexican themed concepts will continue to grow at a faster rate than normal. There is room for everybody-from the low and neighborhood taco shop to fine dining establishments.

Pricing:

  • 13/19 food menu items under $4.00. All specialty cocktails at $8.00
  • Can get 3 tacos and a soft drink for $12.00

Contact Info:

  • Address: Location 13th & F Street, San Diego, CA. 92101
  • Website: www.lola55.com
  • Phone: Under construction
  • Email: info@lola55.com
  • Instagram: lola55_sandiego
  • Facebook: lola55facebook.com

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in