The Work

Taco John’s Vice President for Menu Strategy and Innovation, Bob Karisny, toured the Denver Food & Drink Resources (FDR) Innovation Center in 2014 and quickly saw that it was a place Taco John’s could easily do its innovation work. In fact, the Taco John’s team does focus group testing and hosts its annual Idea Summit at FDR.

“We used to hold our annual event in Cheyanne where we are based, but after seeing the FDR facility and getting to know the people, we decided to do it at FDR because of the functional capabilities and the great atmosphere, which is ideal for getting people to stretch their thinking.”

The Idea Summit is a two-day event. The first day is a meeting to ideate menu possibilities. The second day is a chance to test those innovative dishes with a larger group of people, some of whom are students from a nearby Denver high school.

Why Taco John’s Chooses FDR

Bob explained that there is no shortage of restaurant consultants, but it can be challenging to find a group that has good ideas and can fully execute the ideas. He said FDR has proven to do both effectively.

“Richard and Scott (FDR Co-Founders) have sat where I’m sitting,” he said. “They know what hurdles I need to jump to get buy-in on something. Plus, I value their opinions. It’s important to have eyes from outside our brand on the food we’re developing and testing.”

He went on to say that the Denver location is useful and convenient.

“When we’re in town, we try new restaurants, but, more importantly, FDR can easily bring in young urban and suburban focus group participants. These are the types of guests that Taco Johns serves, and Denver’s growing population is home to many of them.”