Marking a major strategy change in its 20-year history, Wahooâ€™s Fish Taco has halted plans to build company-operated restaurants.
Instead, it will focus on franchising.
The Santa Ana-based chain, founded in 1988, has hired Tom Orbe to lead a major franchising effort.
Orbe, who owns a Wahooâ€™s in Temecula, said Wahooâ€™s wants to build 100 new new franchise units over the next five years.
â€œThis marks a huge shift, because weâ€™re not looking to build more company stores. Weâ€™re looking to franchise,â€ Orbe said during a recent phone interview.
When an iconic chain such as Wahooâ€™s starts to franchise, red flags go up. It often means the original owners are not involved in future growth, and therefore, the quality of the restaurant might go down.