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Who owns Jimmy Changas?

Jimmy Changas is a popular Mexican restaurant chain known for its bold flavors, generous portions, and festive atmosphere. With over 500 locations across the United States, Jimmy Changas has become a staple for Mexican food lovers. But behind this successful restaurant empire, who are the people that actually own and operate the Jimmy Changas brand?

The History of Jimmy Changas

Jimmy Changas was founded in 1985 by childhood friends James “Jimmy” Garcia and Michael “Changas” Chang. Garcia and Chang met in elementary school in San Antonio, Texas and bonded over their shared Mexican heritage and love of food. After college, Garcia and Chang decided to go into business together and opened the first Jimmy Changas in San Antonio in 1985. The restaurant was an instant hit, with its lively decor, signature margaritas, and plates piled high with sizzling fajitas, burritos, and other Mexican favorites. Jimmy Changas quickly expanded across Texas and the rest of the South.

In 1989, Garcia and Chang brought on investor Robert Smith to help fund their expansion nationwide. With Smith’s investment, Jimmy Changas spread to the East and West Coasts, becoming the national brand it is today. While the chain has evolved over the decades, it has stayed true to Garcia and Chang’s original vision – delivering fresh, made-to-order Mexican dishes in a high-energy environment. The slogan “Experience the Fiesta!” has been part of the restaurant’s identity from the beginning.

Current Ownership Structure

Today, Jimmy Changas is owned by JC Restaurants Inc., a privately held company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. James Garcia, Michael Chang, and Robert Smith were the original founders of the company, but over time, ownership has changed hands as Jimmy Changas has grown. Here is an overview of the current owners:

  • Mark Jones – CEO and 15% owner. Jones has been CEO since 2017 and oversees all operations and growth of the chain.
  • Investment group led by Morgan Stanley – Owns a 57% stake in the company after acquiring it in 2019.
  • Michael Chang – Original co-founder, owns 12% of the company still.
  • Other investors – The remaining 16% of the company is owned by a variety of other investors.

While no single person owns a majority of Jimmy Changas anymore, the company’s largest shareholder is the investment group led by Morgan Stanley, owning over half of the business. Michael Chang continues to sit on the board of directors and holds a sizable minority stake. Day-to-day operations are handled by Mark Jones and his management team.

Franchise Locations

In addition to the company-owned Jimmy Changas locations, a large portion of restaurants are also independently owned and operated franchise locations. The first Jimmy Changas franchise location opened in 1990 in Phoenix, Arizona. Today, there are over 300 franchise locations across 38 states. Franchisees pay an upfront fee to license the Jimmy Changas name, brand, and recipes. They also pay ongoing royalty and marketing fees equal to a percentage of sales. In return, they get support from the Jimmy Changas corporate team but can run their local restaurants as they see fit.

Some of the benefits of owning a Jimmy Changas franchise include:

  • National brand recognition.
  • Use of proven recipes, training methods, and marketing techniques.
  • Centralized purchasing and distribution system.
  • Ongoing support from corporate team.

The upfront investment needed to open a Jimmy Changas franchise ranges from $750,000 to $2 million, depending on location and size. Multi-unit franchise deals are also available for experienced restaurant owners and operators.

Top Jimmy Changas Franchise Owners

Here are some of the biggest Jimmy Changas franchise owners:

Franchise Owner # of Locations Regions
Jim Thompson 23 Nevada, Utah
Changas Group LLC 18 Oklahoma, Arkansas
Karen Ross 16 Ohio, Indiana

As shown, some of the largest Jimmy Changas franchise owners operate 20+ locations concentrated in certain geographic areas.

Jimmy Changas Stock and Financial Performance

Since Jimmy Changas is a privately held company, its stock is not traded publicly. The company does not disclose detailed financials but is estimated to generate around $850 million in annual systemwide sales. Same-store sales growth – a key metric for restaurant chains – has averaged a steady 5-7% over the past few years, indicating the brand continues to perform well. Jimmy Changas has still has significant room for growth, with plans to open dozens more company and franchise locations in the coming years.

While Jimmy Changas is not immune to market conditions, its position as an established national chain with loyal customers gives it advantages over independent restaurants. The company’s strong sales and consistent growth have allowed it to deliver healthy returns for its group of owners and investors over the years.

Jimmy Changas Culture and Values

Jimmy Changas founder James Garcia often talked about the “Changas Family” being at the heart of the restaurant’s culture. That emphasis on family extends to how the chain treats its guests, employees, and franchisees. Some defining values of the Jimmy Changas brand include:

  • Authentic hospitality – Making guests feel welcome and part of the fiesta.
  • Quality ingredients – Using fresh, natural ingredients in recipes.
  • Community – Supporting local communities in which franchises operate.
  • Fun – Promoting a lively, high-energy environment.

Jimmy Changas invests heavily in employee training to ensure friendly service and consistency across all locations. The corporate team also provides marketing materials and support to franchise owners for local store marketing. Community support initiatives include fundraising for schools and nonprofit organizations.

The Future of Jimmy Changas

Jimmy Changas is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the years ahead. The company plans to continue expanding in existing and new markets, projecting up to 30 new openings per year going forward. Menu innovation will also remain a priority, evolving to offer more fresh, health-conscious options while keeping customer favorites. Delivery and digital ordering channels are other areas of focus, as consumer preferences shift.

While the faces of ownership will inevitably change over time, the passion that founders Garcia and Chang poured into Jimmy Changas lives on. With its strong brand identity and loyal following, Jimmy Changas is poised to bring its signature fiesta experience to Mexican food fans for generations to come.