Michael Mohammed has been the CEO of Chronic Tacos since 2012. He co-owns the California-based company with his three brothers. Courtesy photo
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Mexican restaurant chain coming to San Marcos

SAN MARCOS — Chronic Tacos is returning to San Diego County this summer after a four-year hiatus in the region.

Chronic Tacos, a fast-casual restaurant chain, plans to open in San Marcos by the end of June. The restaurant chain, which specializes in authentic Mexican food, previously had locations in Encinitas and Solana Beach before shutting them down in 2012.

“We really miss being in San Diego County,” Michael Mohammed, CEO and co-owner of Chronic Tacos, said. “We always felt San Diego County was a good fit because people know their Mexican food and love their Mexican food. We closed our locations in Encinitas and Solana Beach because they weren’t the best locations, but we feel San Marcos is a great start for us to get back into the region.”

The North County location will open on West San Marcos Boulevard with the help of about 15 employees. It will be locally owned by Abdo Mouannes. Mohammed said a second location will open in San Diego County in Oceanside sometime in the fall of 2016.

Despite Chronic Tacos being new to San Diego County, the restaurant chain has a long history in the food industry.

Chronic Tacos was founded by Randy Wyner and Dan Biello in Newport Beach in 2002. Mohammed said the two opened a Mexican food restaurant after failing to find one that met their needs.

“They didn’t have any restaurant experience but they loved taquerias,” Mohammed said. “At the time, all the taquerias in Newport were either dirty or not very friendly so they felt there was something they could bring to the table.”

Mohammed said with the help of a friend and his great grandmother who lived in Mexico, the two opened a restaurant in Newport Beach. The duo used family recipes from the great grandmother that are still used at all Chronic Tacos locations today.

“It’s those recipes that differentiate us from a lot of the taco shops out there,” Mohammed said. “Our flavors are more authentic but it’s California-inspired because we use fresh, high-quality ingredients. We make everything from scratch every morning.”

More than 10 years after the first Chronic Tacos location opened, Mohammed and his three brothers purchased the majority of the company. The brothers revamped the company’s business plan and now oversee 31 locations in California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Canada.

“We became familiar with the brand when they came up to Vancouver,” Mohammed said. “I really loved the brand’s uniqueness and the food so we helped finance the expansion. In 2012, we bought the company.”

About 1.5 years ago, the brothers set the company up for franchising. They now have 50 new franchise relationships with plans to expand to Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama, Washington state and Florida.

Mohammed said he hopes new customers will appreciate the friendliness and vibe of the restaurant when it opens in San Marcos.

“We’re really looking forward to re-introducing ourselves to San Diego County, and provide that California-inspired Mexican food in a fun, laid-back atmosphere,” Mohammed said. “We are based in Southern California so that’s who we are. I really hope people will enjoy the authenticity of the brand.”