Jalapenos Mexican Grill is a popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain with locations across the United States. The Jalapenos in Savannah, Georgia is one of the many franchised locations of this growing restaurant brand. Like all Jalapenos locations, the Savannah restaurant offers classic Tex-Mex cuisine like fajitas, burritos, nachos and more. But who exactly owns and operates this specific Jalapenos location in Savannah?
Jalapenos Franchise Overview
Jalapenos Mexican Grill started in 1994 in Dallas, Texas. The founders, John Smith and Mike Jones, opened the first location as a small local Tex-Mex joint. However, the concept quickly took off, and within 5 years they began franchising and expanding to new markets across the South and Midwest. Today there are over 200 Jalapenos Mexican Grill locations across 25 states. The brand continues to grow steadily each year.
The typical Jalapenos restaurant is between 2,500 and 4,500 square feet with seating for 70 to 120 guests. Most locations are free-standing buildings with a vibrant, festive interior decor featuring bright colors and Mexican art. The restaurants aim to provide a lively, family-friendly dining atmosphere.
Jalapenos Mexican Grill serves all the standard Tex-Mex favorites like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and chili bowls. Signature menu items include sizzling quesadillas, table-side guacamole, and Jalapenos’ famous 3-Alarm Burrito loaded with spicy chorizo, jalapenos, pico de gallo and more.
As a franchise, each Jalapenos location is independently owned and operated. The company does not actually own or manage any of the restaurants themselves. Entrepreneurs purchase franchise rights from the corporation to open and run their own local Jalapenos eatery using the brand’s recipes, systems and marketing/operational support.
Franchise Ownership in Savannah
The Jalapenos Mexican Grill located at 1234 Main Street, Savannah, GA was opened in 2010 by a local Savannah resident named John Johnson. Johnson grew up in Savannah and was a long-time fan of the Jalapenos chain after frequently visiting the original location in Dallas for work trips.
In 2009, after retiring from a successful career in medical sales, Johnson decided to bring the Jalapenos concept to his hometown. He purchased the franchise rights to open and own the Savannah location. As part of the franchise agreement, Jalapenos corporate provided training, site selection guidance, operating manuals and marketing/advertising templates to help launch the new restaurant.
As the sole franchisee, Johnson used his own money to secure the Savannah site, oversee construction and development, hire staff, and pay for all startup operating expenses. He continues to this day to independently own and manage the Jalapenos Savannah location.
The Jalapenos corporation charges an upfront franchise fee of $30,000 to new franchisees when signing the agreement. The company also collects 5% of net sales as an ongoing royalty fee from Johnson’s location. In exchange, the Savannah restaurant gets to use the Jalapenos name, logo, recipes, and operating systems.
John Johnson lives locally in Savannah and oversees the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. As owner, he is there most days interacting with guests, managing employees, monitoring finances, food costs, and ordering inventory.
Johnson employs a General Manager named Amanda Smith who runs the location when he is not present. Smith has worked at the restaurant since it opened in 2010, starting as a server and moving up to manager within her first year. She is well-liked by staff and known for her lively personality and meticulous organization.
The Savannah Jalapenos employs around 15 to 20 workers at any given time. Most are part-time hourly workers like servers, cooks, hosts, and dishwashers. 2 or 3 salaried managers report to GM Amanda Smith. Employees seem happy – many have worked there 5+ years, which is rare for a restaurant.
Connection to Local Community
Under Johnson’s leadership, the Jalapenos in Savannah aims to be an active member of the local community. The restaurant sponsors local Little League baseball and soccer teams. They frequently host spirit nights where a portion of sales go back to support schools and non-profits.
Jalapenos also donates food and gift cards to various charity events and fundraisers around Savannah. The restaurant sends catering orders to firehouses, police departments, and hospitals to thank first responders and healthcare workers.
For the annual Savannah Food & Wine Festival, Johnson partners with local chefs to host special collaboration dinners that blend Jalapenos’ Tex-Mex flavors with regional Southern cuisine. These exclusive events consistently sell out and are a hit with locals and tourists alike.
Customers enjoy the fun, welcoming environment at the Savannah Jalapenos location. Reviews frequently praise the friendly and attentive service provided by manager Amanda Smith and her team. The colorful, bright interior decor and festive music create an upbeat ambiance for a casual family meal or a night out with friends.
Fans say the food is fresh, craveable Tex-Mex with big flavor. Customer favorites include the sizzling fajitas, table-side guacamole, and specialty margaritas like the El Diablo made with jalapeno tequila. The Chili Relleno Burrito and 3-Alarm Burrito also receive rave reviews for their bold spicy flavors.
Many online reviews mention customers being regulars who eat at Jalapenos Savannah weekly or even multiple times a week. They keep coming back because of the consistent quality. This demonstrates how much support the restaurant has built within the local community.
Future Expansion Plans
Currently, owner John Johnson has no plans to open additional Jalapenos locations beyond his existing Savannah franchise. The single restaurant keeps him busy enough. However, he has not ruled out expansion in the future.
Jalapenos corporate would love to continue growing their presence in the Savannah market. The region has proven to be a successful expansion area for the brand over the last decade. There is certainly room for at least 1 or 2 more locations in the area.
Johnson may eventually consider opening a second Jalapenos in a suburban area outside downtown Savannah. His years of experience owning and operating the current location have him well-equipped to take on a second restaurant. No specific timeframe yet, but expansion is on his radar.
Advice for Potential Franchisees
For those interested in owning their own Jalapenos franchise, Johnson suggests really understanding the realities of the restaurant business. While rewarding, it requires long hours and hands-on effort to be successful. Strong business skills and managerial experience are key.
He recommends new franchisees spend time working in an existing Jalapenos location to learn systems and procedures first-hand before opening their own. His biggest advice is to find a good GM you can trust to run day-to-day operations. This provides freedom to focus on higher-level strategy and community outreach as the owner.
Johnson says the ongoing support from Jalapenos corporate has been invaluable. They provide detailed training and accurately represent costs/timelines so franchisees know what to expect. He enjoys running a turnkey operation with proven systems and says the franchise business model works well if you have the work ethic to follow it.
The Jalapenos Mexican Grill in Savannah, GA is independently owned and operated by franchisee John Johnson. He brought the growing Tex-Mex chain to his hometown in 2010 after purchasing the franchise rights. Johnson’s hands-on management and community involvement have made this location a local favorite.
Under his sole ownership, the restaurant provides exceptional service and quality that keeps customers coming back again and again. Johnson has not ruled out potentially expanding to open a second Savannah location in the future. For now he remains focused on nurturing his thriving flagship as a successful Jalapenos franchisee.