Cafe Rio

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Cafe Rio Mexican Grill
Industry Casual dining restaurant
Founded 1997
Headquarters Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Cafe Rio, or Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, is a fast casual restaurant chain prominent in the Western United States with branches in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming serving a variety of Mexican-style food. As of May 2014, the chain has 73 restaurants.[1]


Cafe Rio was started in 1997 by Steve and Tricia Stanley in St. George, Utah. In December 2004, Bob and Kathleen Nilsen, Spencer K Hill, along with SKM/Apax Partners purchased the chain, which at the time had six restaurants. In 2011, Dave Gagnon took over as CEO and COO at the same time as Bob Baker was appointed President and CFO. The company expanded operations and currently has 73 operating restaurants. Cafe Rio’s recipes are inspired from the traditional cooking of the Rio Grande region of Northern Mexico, Southern Texas and New Mexico.[2]


The company has locations in:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Washington


The menu comprises new recipes and techniques inspired from the Rio Grande Valley regions of Northern Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, and all food is made fresh daily from scratch - the green chilies are sourced from Hatch, New Mexico, and the red peppers are imported from Mexico.


  • Number One in the Nation, Sandelman & Associates' 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • Utah Business Magazine Top 100 Fastest Growing 2006 #20
  • INC 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies 2004
  • City Weekly 2007 – Best Burrito
  • City Weekly 2005 – Best Burrito
  • City Weekly 2004 – Best Burrito
  • Best of City Search 2006/07 – Best Mexican Food
  • Best of City Search 2006/07 – Best Burrito
  • Best of City Search 2006/07 – Best Salad
  • Best of City Search 2006/07 – Best Outdoor Seating
  • Best of City Search 2005 – Highly Recommended[citation needed]