Upscale Mexican Taqueria Expands with Help of Expert Representation

June 1, 2022

Eddie Palacios Staff photo

Eddie Palacios, Commercial Broker

Caton Commercial Real Estate senior broker, Eddie Palacios, began his career in commercial real estate twenty-three years ago. He quickly developed a unique approach to the business. Eddie walked into businesses and plied owners with questions to learn about their business models. He learned to better differentiate stagnant or stabilized businesses from the ones in growth mode, or with growth potential.

Tenant representation is akin to the role of an out-of-house real estate director. Developing this area of expertise, and taking this specialized approach to his brokerage business, has served Eddie well over the years. His understanding of business models helps him treat client businesses as if he were an owner and a partner. Clients know that he’s looking out for their best interests as he studies demographic models and competition maps as it relates to their business plans, ideal client and objectives in order to help them find the right location. He makes sure the economics of every deal work, even if at times that means talking clients out of deals that don’t work. His forthright nature has cultivated incredible loyalty from his clients. His Dunkin’ clients have been with him for fifteen years, 43 deals, and plenty of family get-togethers and weddings.

Temoc Morfin, Cilantro

Eddie was introduced to brothers Fernando and Temoc six years ago when they were operating the first Cilantro location and had a second site under contract. Their story is the American dream – a talented immigrant family who have dedicated their collective genius to growing a successful restaurant chain. The brothers lead the company, their sisters create recipes, and all thirteen family members work in the family business. Eddie helps them identify the right real estate so they can focus on operating their business – which has exploded.

Oak Brook Mall ownership reached out to Eddie when they heard he was representing a new concept, Cilantro. He worked with the brothers to create a strong marketing plan and pitch deck, and mall ownership was interested.

The Oak Brook mall location has been a resounding success, one of several stars in their portfolio of thirteen locations throughout the city and suburbs. As the concept expanded into new locations, product consistency became a priority. Cilantro created a commissary kitchen and established routes for daily deliveries of freshly prepared ingredients for their upscale Mexican taqueria menu. Their dedication to quality spurred the creation of Cilantro Tortilla Factory.

The tortilla factory in Stone Park allows visitors to stop by and watch the tortilla-making process through windows into their state-of-the-art kitchen. Though originally outfitted with a conference room and corporate offices, they quickly realized the better use for the space was serving the visitors the great tortillas they were viewing as part of an exclusive “tortilla factory only” menu.

Eddie speaks of the family with great admiration. “They are always looking and planning ahead for opportunities to make their customers happy (and more full!). They are not afraid to try something different to make their product and brand better. That is the best description of an entrepreneur.”

During the pandemic, their foresight in creating a product line allowed Cilantro to grow their distribution arm when the physical restaurants were slow. The factory produced millions of tortillas for other restaurants. Their products are in 400 grocery stores now. The brand has become recognizable and they continue to work on different products and test new ideas.

Eddie frequently receives calls soliciting Cilantro for new locations. Some owners and industry professionals understand Cilantro’s business success. Others soon discover that Cilantro’s leadership is sophisticated and well-capitalized, with a highly diversified business model. Cilantro’s Mexican comfort food has transcended to areas like Lincoln Park (the store there in an old Chipotle has become a very successful neighborhood staple).

For Eddie, Cilantro is a shining example of how his services have helped a restaurant move into their full potential. He acknowledges that restaurants are a high risk, high reward business. As restaurant expansions came to an abrupt halt during COVID, Eddie’s pulse on the industry became even more important as he listened to success tactics presented by clients and industry leaders and shared the knowledge with all his clients. If there is one thing Eddie is certain of, it is that the future holds every opportunity for success – for Cilantro and all of us.

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Caton Commercial Real Estate Group uses its corporate experience and professional networks to find innovative solutions and opportunities that position clients for success. Strong community ties and relationships help foster a client-driven approach to business. Caton Commercial offers a full range of client services, including property disposition, investment sales, leasing, tenant representation, and property management.

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