PROUD TO PARTNER
your 25th anniversary!
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Founder & President
A Letter from Rodney Anderson
I’d like to thank all the people of the Corridor who supported Pancheros
for the last 25 years.
It starts with thanks to the customers from downtown Iowa City who
came into our first location when we were just learning to serve them.
Their support at that location has paved the way for everything that has
followed. We learned a lot at that corner location, and those lessons
have taken us a long way. The reputation we built there made it easy to
open restaurants in the rest of the Corridor and around the state.
AN ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT OF THE
CORRIDOR BUSINESS JOURNAL
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING: ROB MILLER
WRITER: JENNIE MORTON
PHOTOGRAPHER: EMILY BETTRIDGE
DESIGNER: BECKY LYONS
MEDIA CONSULTANT: KRIS LACINA
Thanks to all the employees, vendors, suppliers, landlords, franchisees
and investors who have made it possible to grow from that one location
to more than 70. Many of these groups have come from the Corridor
and we continue to work with them today. We are an Eastern Iowa
company and are proud to educate the rest of the country on what
success can come from Iowa.
We hope to continue to grow from Iowa City to a national brand
that people from the Corridor can be proud of. Thank you for your
continued support as we do so.
Rodney L. Anderson
Pancheros Mexican Grill
Look, it’s our very first location, downtown Iowa City, 1992. View from Old Capitol Town Center, 1998. The original Doughpro.
25 Savory Years
Freshly pressed tortillas, mouth-watering ingredients
and perfectly mixed fillings are the winning recipe for
Pancheros. What started as a local venture in Iowa City
in 1992 has since blossomed into a thriving chain of
franchise restaurants across the United States. Pancheros is
celebrating its 25th anniversary with a full year of special
prizes and social media contests. Take a look at how
the restaurant has grilled the competition by keeping its
business formula as simple as its ingredients list.
Grand opening at the Iowa City Riverside location.
With a line around the corner outside.
The Burrito Lift at Kinnick Stadium is an energetic videoboard promotion. The view from Washington Street of downtown Iowa City location, 2017.
Pancheros’ roots in Iowa have
been fundamental to its success.
Restaurateurs typically debut a new concept in a large city
before branching out. With a customer base that can be
easily replenished, a metropolitan restaurant has a safety
cushion to experiment with the menu and replace ideas that
fall short. But in a market like Iowa, the stakes are higher to
make a good impression and there is less room for trial and
error to make sure a concept pleases the crowds.
When Pancheros first debuted in the early 1990s, it was
more similar to a traditional taqueria. It was a risky move for
founder Rodney Anderson as Iowa isn’t typically celebrated
for having authentic south-of-the-border food. The Mexicaninspired
eatery was nonetheless a success. After a few years
of steady popularity, Mr. Anderson saw an opportunity
in 1998 to pivot Pancheros into a fresh-pressed tortilla
restaurant, which provided customers with a new type of
“Rodney noticed that there were fast-food chains and
sit-down restaurants but nothing in between. Little did he
know that the idea he was experimenting with would soon
dominate the restaurant landscape of fast-casual dining,
which provides customers with quality menu selections at a
lower price point and wait time,” explained Barry Nelson,
vice president of operations.
Viva La Bob
With Bob’s help, we’ve torn down the walls that
once stood between meat and rice, between
beans and salsa. Ingredients can now co-conspire
as one. Bob has single-handedly revolutionized
burrito building, and eating, forever.
The line for the Annual Dollar Burrito at the downtown Iowa City location.
eatery was nonetheless a
success. After a few years
of steady popularity,
Mr. Anderson saw an
opportunity in 1998 to
pivot Pancheros into
hadn’t experienced before.
Congratulations Pancheros On 25 Years!
All burritos are made with freshly made tortillas.
An employee “bobbing” a burrito by mixing the ingredients with Bob the Tool.
In addition to the early adoption of a new restaurant
category, Mr. Anderson made the decision to abandon much
of the menu people were accustomed to and move to a
streamlined approach while also introducing the brand’s staple
product: fresh-pressed tortillas. The revamped menu further
distinguished Pancheros from other rivals and expanded its
customer base despite these drastic changes.
“In the beginning, Pancheros was a new concept that most
people had yet to experience. We discovered that customers
could be turned away if things were overly complex. If the food
was simple to understand, the menu was easy to read, and the
pricing model was uncomplicated, people were more likely to
give it a try because they didn’t have to give much thought to
the decision,” explained Mr. Anderson. “For example, we had a
lot of opportunities to add additional menu items but then that
meant one more thing for customers to understand about the
experience. We embraced simplicity because it became obvious
to us that it was the best way to get people to try something new.”
We embraced simplicity
because it became obvious
to us that it was the best
way to get people to try
This is why Pancheros’ menu has largely remained consistent
over the years. Customers can choose from rice, two types of
beans, veggies, four protein options, five salsas and standard
toppings like cheese and lettuce. Bob the Tool was introduced
in 2007, a spatula that mixes burrito fillings evenly. The move
let customers know that Pancheros took the problem of poorly
mixed burritos seriously. In fall 2016, a vegetarian-based
protein called Tofusada was added.
Behind the scenes, simplicity also dominates the chain’s
management philosophy. Everything from menu offerings to
operational needs has been boiled down to only the essentials.
For example, the recipes are confined to a single page and the
entire restaurant can be run with three team members.
“Rodney has a lean point of view when it comes to restaurant
management and avoids anything that is unnecessarily
complicated,” Mr. Nelson said. “Every decision Pancheros
makes must preserve the simplicity of our operational model.”
WE COULD HAVE BUILT PYRAMIDS
For their freshly pressed tortillas, customers can choose from rice, two types of beans, veggies, four protein options, five salsas and standard toppings like
cheese and lettuce.
An Edge Over
Rodney Anderson started franchising Pancheros in 2004. His goal was
take the lessons learned from the restaurant’s early days and offer an
approachable concept to other entrepreneurs. The already established
philosophy of simplicity smoothed the transition, enabling franchisees without
a background in the restaurant industry to grow a business. More than 40
franchise units are now located across the United States.
Our location in Des Moines on Ingersoll.
“Rodney understands the importance of being able to teach a restaurant model
to a new owner or someone who has no experience. And the experienced
franchisee sees the value in the simplicity of operations,” Mr. Nelson said.
Specific requirements for location has been another consistent part of the
Pancheros strategy. The concept plays well in suburban areas, particularly near
big box retailers, town epicenters and shopping malls. Any location where
people are in a hurry and want to have food in hand within 5 minutes is ideal.
While Pancheros is a favorite near college campuses, the restaurant’s goal is to
appeal to everyone, not just students. For example, its original Iowa City location
is positioned so it draws both University of Iowa and downtown business traffic.
“There are two important points that we look at when selecting real estate. The
first and most obvious is to choose an area where we have good representation
from our core demographic. We profile areas for income, daytime population
Interior of Cedar Rapids Edgewood at Westdale.
25 years of service.
We look forward
to many more!
On a successful 25 years in business
FROM YOUR PARTNERS AT
CREATIVE PALETTE, INC.
Keep It Simple.
We like it simple. So we said no
to fryers, freezers and all things
involving photons. We just need a
bowl for dough making, a press for
turning that dough into tortillas
and a grill for filling them with the
Congratulations on the past 25 years
Viva La Bob the Tool
When you take burritos as serious as you do, you better have a partner that takes your
business as serious as we do. Proud to deliver the ingredients to help your burritos stand in a
league of their own with your fresh pressed tortillas and Bob doing his magic.
4100 44th Avenue S.W. | Cedar Rapids | 319.396.1300 | rfsdelivers.com
and education levels,” Mr. Anderson explained. “The second element to
this process is choosing a specific spot that will maximize our exposure
to our targeted customer. We want strong nearby tenants, easy access
from the street, adequate parking and steady foot traffic. If we are
diligent about sticking to these requirements, then we set up new
restaurants for success from the beginning.”
Pancheros also uses a customizable design for all chain and
franchise locations. The company has an in-house construction staff
and a library of finishes that can be applied to virtually any space.
The team helps owners to optimize kitchen size, line start and finish,
layout and ambiance.
Our customizable flair makes
each Pancheros location feel a
little bit different, which can
give the concept an edge in
existing spaces or tighter real
- Shannon Krauss
“Not many franchisers offer this depth of design work for their
franchisees,” noted Shannon Krauss, director of design and
construction. “Our customizable flair makes each Pancheros location
feel a little bit different, which can give the concept an edge in existing
spaces or tighter real estate markets.”
The restaurant has also turned to local partnerships to keep the
brand fresh. Pancheros is a proud supporter of Hawkeye Athletics and
collaborated in developing the Pancheros Burrito Lift.
“Our aim is to add value to the lives of our patrons. For more than a
decade, we’ve partnered with Iowa Athletics on the Pancheros Burrito Lift
promotion inside Kinnick Stadium and Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In 2016,
that relationship extended to serving our signature chips and queso in
those venues for the first time,” said Rob Miller, director of marketing.
Pancheros’ menu has largely remained consistent over the years.
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2261 Crosspark Road, Suite 211, Coralville, IA 52241
You better believe it’s better built
In case tortillas are too much to handle
Lettuce make you somethin’ special
Our most popular item among twins
If you ask us, things taste better in slices
Trust us, you’ll want to save some room
Thank you for having Corridor Construction Services
as part of the Pancheros construction team.
Looking Ahead To
The Next 25 Years
To commemorate its silver anniversary, Pancheros ran a
series of social media campaigns to thank its customers.
Rather than receive presents, the company gave away 25
days of gifts ranging from a whimsical tortilla pillow to a
year of free chips and queso. The celebration culminated
in interstellar franchising rights and $1,000 in “investment
capital.” As Pancheros moves into the next 25 years, its
model of fresh ingredients, simple operations and a tonguein-cheek
brand voice will continue to be its signature style.
“I am most proud of watching this concept grow successfully
in other parts of the country. We knew we had something
pretty special in Iowa but we worked very hard in the first
few years to get there. It felt great when we started opening
restaurants in other states and when the success came to
those restaurants much faster,” Mr. Anderson said. “With
our most recent locations in Rochester, MN, and Bismark,
ND, we now have over 70 locations. We are excited to be
opening stores in Jacksonville, FL, and Sioux Falls, SD, later
this summer as we work toward our short-term goal of
introducing 10 new locations each year.”
We are excited to be opening stores in
Jacksonville, FL, and Sioux Falls, SD,
later this summer as we work toward
our short-term goal of introducing
10 new locations each year.
Everything we do, we do for you.
Thank you for
Pancheros on their
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CONGRATS ON 25 YEARS!
Call now for your
SW OF TIFFIN, IA
Ask us to handle
your custom job in
our shop or with
our portable truck.
We are a locally
and owner for over
You keep building better burritos and we’ll
keep making sure the world knows about them.
Here’s to the next 25 years.
Branding • Advertising • Internet • Media • PR • Social
You had us at queso!