Abuelo's Introduces New Value Priced, Fast-Casual Restaurant Concept in Evansville, Ind.

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Food Concepts International, parent company of Abuelo's Mexican restaurants, is launching a new, fast-casual restaurant concept, Nieto's Mexican Express, in Evansville, Ind., on Feb. 9. The new concept is designed to deliver the same great Mexican food associated with Abuelo's, but at an appealing fast-casual pace, with counter service and value priced menu items.

We are very excited to introduce this exciting new concept in Evansville

Food Concepts International, parent company of Abuelo's Mexican restaurants, is launching a new, fast-casual restaurant concept, Nieto's Mexican Express, in Evansville, Ind., in February. The Evansville Abuelo's restaurant, located at 1000 N. Green River Road near Eastland Mall, is currently closed for renovation and is scheduled to reopen as Nieto's Mexican Express on Monday, February 9.

The new concept is designed to deliver the same great Mexican food associated with Abuelo's, but at an appealing fast-casual pace, with counter service and value priced menu items. Fast-casual restaurants - where consumers can get quick, affordably priced meals in a nice, casual atmosphere - are one of the country's hottest dining trends, according to a report by Technomic, a Chicago-based food industry consulting and research company.

"Our traditional Abuelo's restaurants have earned a reputation for delicious Mexican specialties that raise the bar of Mexican food," said Bob Lin, president of Food Concepts International. "Nieto's Mexican Express offers us a way to further express our passion for food in a distinctively different way, while at the same time giving our guests the same quality they have come to expect from Abuelo's - only with faster service and a menu that is value priced for today's budgets, with no tipping required. Nieto's offers a great value and an economical way to feed the whole family."

With the conversion, the Evansville restaurant will undergo interior renovations making the atmosphere a little more fun and casual as well as accommodating the new style of service, including a new fresh salsa bar. Exterior changes will primarily be changes in signage reflecting the new Nieto's name. Designed to be "the next generation" of the Abuelo's family, the Nieto's name was selected because it means "grandson" or "descendent" in Spanish. "Abuelo" is Spanish for "grandfather."

"Evansville was selected as the test market for this new concept because of its central, Midwestern location and its hardworking, dynamic residents who manage the demands of their lives by balancing their love of quality, delicious food with exceedingly good value and adherence to budget," added Lin. "We understand that for more and more dining occasions, people want their meals quickly, with premium quality and service, but at a better price point than typical casual dining (and no tipping required), and that's why we developed the Nieto's concept.

Nieto's will feature a variety of Mexican platters and entrées including quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas, burritos, fajitas and taco salads served in a crisp, baked tortilla shell, with prices ranging from $4.49 to $9.99. The restaurant will also feature "bottomless" tortilla chips for $.99 and a fresh salsa bar with several homemade salsas including Salsa Roja, Salsa Diablo, Salsa Tropicale, Sweet Jalapeño Relish, Black Bean Relish and Pico de Gallo. Nieto's will also include a full bar serving economically priced Margaritas and draft beer at $1.99, as well as other cocktails. The restaurant offers a fast and convenient counter ordering process, as well as To Go ordering and pick up.

"We are very excited to introduce this exciting new concept in Evansville," said Arshia Bahrolumi, Abuelo's general manager who will remain in the same position with Nieto's. "Nieto's fast service, casual atmosphere and value priced menu are a perfect fit for today's busy schedules and tight budgets."

The new Nieto's in Evansville is located at 1000 N. Green River Road, outside of Eastland Mall. The restaurant will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Nieto's will continue to honor Abuelo's gift cards and coupons.

A grand opening celebration for the new Nieto's restaurant is planned for February 16 through 21, with events planned throughout the week including a charity tortilla toss competition, special giveaways and prizes, a fajita fundraiser and a live radio remote by WIKY-FM.

About Abuelo's
Since its first opening in 1989, Abuelo's has continually been on the leading edge of menu creativity, combining consistency in food quality, colorful plate presentations, superior service and an impressive Mexican courtyard-themed atmosphere. Abuelo's restaurants, which were recently listed in Restaurants & Institutions' "Top 400 Sales Growth Leaders" annual ranking and in Chain Leader magazine's "Top 50 Chains Under 50 Units" listing, are owned and operated by Food Concepts International of Lubbock, Texas. Abuelo's was also ranked as one of the top chain restaurants in America, the top-ranked Mexican food restaurant and highlighted as one of seven restaurant chains offering the best combination of price and quality in a survey by a leading national consumer rating magazine.

In February 2009, Food Concepts International will launch its newest concept, Nieto's Mexican Express, a fast casual restaurant offering delicious food and drinks with counter service and a value priced menu. There are currently 40 Abuelo's restaurants in 15 states and one Nieto's Mexican Express located in Evansville, Ind. More information and a listing of restaurant locations are available at http://www.abuelos.com.

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MELANIE CARROLL
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