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La Salsa

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La Salsa
La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1979; 45 years ago (1979)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
FounderHowdy Kabrins
Scottsdale, Arizona[1]
U.S. (2016–present)
Number of locations
  • 6 (April 2024) 23 (September 2016)[1]
  • 98 (June 1999)[2]
Area served
United States
ProductsMexican-style fast casual food
OwnerKahala Brands
ParentMTY Food Group

La Salsa is a chain of fast-casual Tex Mex restaurants founded in Los Angeles, California in 1979, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and is owned by Canadian franchisor MTY Food Group.[1] The chain emphasizes fresh ingredients, and each restaurant features a self-serve salsa bar.

La Salsa has been closely associated with its sister company Baja Fresh, which purchased the company from CKE Restaurants in 2007. Since then, the companies have shared their corporate headquarters.

In 2016, MTY acquired La Salsa with its sister company Baja Fresh and is current being managed by MTYs Kahala Brands division. The chain operated 23 restaurants in the United States, most of which are franchised.[1]



The La Salsa restaurant chain was founded in 1979 by Howdy Kabrins as a single location at the corner of Pico and Sepulveda boulevards in West Los Angeles.[3] By 1986, there were six locations, all within Los Angeles County.[3]

The first mentioned of La Salsa being in Orange County was in an article that showed that La Salsa was at the MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana when the mall first opened in August 1986.[4]

The first San Diego area location was opened in Horton Plaza in August 1985.[5]

After expanding the La Salsa chain throughout Southern California, Kabrins sold control of the company to a consortium that included Sienna Holding and InterWest Partners in June 1992.[6][7]

La Salsa opened their first Northern California location, the 38th in the chain, in Sacramento in 1993.[8]

In July 1999, Santa Barbara Restaurant Group acquired La Salsa via a stock swap.[2] At the time of the acquisition, La Salsa had 98 locations throughout the United States, 48 of which were franchised.[2]

CKE Restaurants obtained La Salsa in March 2002 when it acquired its then parent company, Santa Barbara Restaurant Group.[9][10]

Baja Fresh


In 2007, CKE Restaurants sold La Salsa to Baja Fresh for an undisclosed amount.[11][12] At the time of the sale, La Salsa had over 100 locations in approximately a dozen states.

In September 2016, it was announced that Baja Fresh's parent, BF Acquisition Holdings, was sold to MTY Food Group for $27 million.[1] At the time of the acquisition by MTY, Baja Fresh had 162 restaurants and its sister company La Salsa had 23 restaurant; 16 of the combined 185 locations were franchised.[1] It is unclear if the new owner would combine the two chains or keep them separate. In an earlier press release announcing MTY's acquisition of Kahala Brands just two months previously, MTY gave the vague statement that "Kahala will stay in Kahala's current headquarters... while MTY's US operations will move into Kahala's offices".[13]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f Luna, Nancy (September 12, 2016). "Irvine owner of Baja Fresh sold for $27 million to restaurant company tied to Pinkberry". Orange County Register. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Hernandez, Greg (June 9, 1999). "Green Burrito Parent to Acquire La Salsa: Santa Barbara Restaurant Group will buy rival chain. Value of sale is not disclosed". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b Lipson, Larry (February 5, 1986). "La Salsa Favorites Are Black And Blue And Popular All Over". Los Angeles Daily News. p. 16. Howdy Kabrins created his first La Salsa in 1979 on Pico and Sepulveda boulevards in West Los Angeles. He recently chose the San Fernando Valley for his sixth one, with the debut of La Salsa on the busy corner of Roscoe and Sepulveda boulevards in Van Nuys... La Salsa, 8267 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys... Other locations in Westwood, West Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach. Future outlets planned in San Diego, Glendale and elsewhere.
  4. ^ "Ready, set, shop: What you'll find at MainPlace". Orange County Register. September 25, 1987. p. J06.
  5. ^ James, Leslie (August 8, 1985). "An international choice of food at new Horton Plaza". San Diego Union Tribune. pp. DOWNTOWN-35. No one is likely to go hungry at the new Horton Plaza complex... Grazing will be grand with the likes of Boudin's Sourdough Bakery, Mrs. Fields Cookies, Pogo Pizza, Robin Rose Ice Cream (a Venice, Calif.-based shop peddling outrageously rich and flavorful ice cream), La Salsa Mexican eats, Everything Yogurt, Hot Dog on a Stick and Boardwalk Fries.
  6. ^ Riggs, Rod (August 6, 1994). "Founder of La Salsa now main franchisee". San Diego Union Tribune. pp. C-1. Howdy Kabrins, who founded the La Salsa taqueria chain 15 years ago, has spent $1 million to become the company's largest franchisee. Kabrins bought five of La Salsa's 12 locations in San Diego County, plus sites in Costa Mesa, Malibu and Montebello. Kabrins opened the first La Salsa in Los Angeles in 1979. By 1987, the company owned 10 outlets in Southern California and began franchising. La Salsa came to San Diego in 1988 when it acquired five former El Pollo Loco sites. In 1992, Kabrins sold control of La Salsa Inc. to Sienna Holding of San Francisco and InterWest Partners of Menlo Park in what he calls a recapitalization. Terms were not disclosed. Adding 10 units in 1993, La Salsa Inc. grew to 21 company-owned and 22 franchised outlets with about $25 million in sales.
  7. ^ "La Salsa Mexican Restaurants Completes Growth Financing". PR Newswire (Press release). June 23, 1992 – via The Free Library.
  8. ^ "New Players Come to Capital". Sacramento Bee. October 17, 1993. p. E1. La Salsa sells fresh, healthy and authentic Mexican food, much of it low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. The first restaurant opened in Los Angeles in 1979 and Sacramento will be the 38th La Salsa. Headquarters are in Los Angeles and most of the restaurants are in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties.
  9. ^ "CKE Restaurants, Inc. and Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, Inc. Announce The Signing of a Letter of Intent for CKE Restaurants To Acquire Santa Barbara Restaurant Group". PR Newswire (Press release). November 19, 2001.
  10. ^ "CKE Restaurants, Inc. and Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, Inc. Set to Close Merger (Press release)". PR Newswire (Press release). February 28, 2002. Archived from the original on August 20, 2017.
  11. ^ Luna, Nancy (May 29, 2007). "Anaheim investor to buy La Salsa". Orange County Register. CKE Restaurants is selling its 96-unit La Salsa chain to Baja Fresh, whose key owner is from Orange County... The chain had grown to 90 units when CKE Restaurants acquired it from Santa Barbara Restaurant Group in a $54 million all-stock deal in 2002.
  12. ^ "CKE Restaurants, Inc. Announces Sale of La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill(R) Restaurants". PR Newswire (Press release). May 29, 2007.
  13. ^ "MTY Completes the Acquisition of Kahala Brands, Ltd". PR Newswire (Press release). July 26, 2016. The operations of Kahala will stay in Kahala's current headquarters, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, while MTY's US operations will move into Kahala's offices. Mr. Jeff Smit, Kahala's Chief Operating Officer, will be leading the US operations of the combined entity.