Lime Fresh Mexican Grill is officially sold to Ruby Tuesday

Aww man, so one of our favorite restaurants has officially been acquired and done gone full-corporate. Lime Fresh Mexican Grill has been purchased by the folks at the Ruby Tuesday empire. It took $24 Million, but the deal is officially done and official. Lime currently has 16 locations stretching from South Florida to Atlanta and Washington D.C., but with this new deal you can expect up to 50 new locations added nationwide. Some fear this might compromise the quality of the food and service, and while that’s a fear that can only be determined by the future, Lime’s founder and CEO,  John Kunkle, is probably having the best week ever. He had a good press run earlier in the year, including much fanfare about one of his latest side restaurant projects Yardbird (more on that later). But, if anything, it just shows you another South Florida success story. From one original concept location on Alton Road to becoming a Multi-Million Dollar Brand. And with the deal, he gets to keep ownership of his original Alton Road location. Read the full story below…

MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s a done deal: The $24 million dollar buy out of the popular Lime Fresh Mexican Grill by Tennessee’s “Ruby Tuesday” chain.

It’s a story of a local boy and a South Beach taco stand that made it big by offering fresh ingredients at affordable family pricing.

The “Lime Empire” started back in 2004 off Alton Road in South Beach.

Despite the success and opening several new locations nationwide, it still offers local deliveries using lime-green bicycles.

Who’s the man behind the Lime?

It’s Miami Beach’s John Kunkle. He built his “Lime-Fresh” empire one franchise at time. It’s grown to 16 stores stretching from South Beach to Washington, D.C.

“It’s amazing, I mean I started literally as a dishwasher when I was a teenager and it’s an amazing opportunity and Lime has definitely been my baby as every restaurant has been to me, every concept. To see this chain to continue, to be on the board still operating our founding store, just makes it that much sweeter for me,” said Kunkle.

As part of the deal, Limes’ founder joins Ruby Tuesday’s Board of Directors and will retain control over his original SoBe location.

Local customers aren’t surprised his formula for success is going national.

Still, Coral Gables customer Phillip Mervis is nervous.

“The food’s great, it’s always fresh, I just hope they can maintain the quality outside the Miami area,” said Mervis.

Kunkle wants to reassure his customers that nothing’s going to change

“The same people who served you a burrito last week will be serving you this week. The same produce vendors who delivered stuff locally are still delivering thru the back door. So we’re excited to continue on the same path,” said Kunkle.

Under new ownership, the Lime chain is expected to expand dramatically over the next 2 years.

Under Ruby Tuesday’s ownership, Lime Fresh is expected to open possibly as many as 50 new locations across the country over the next two years.

Source: CBS Miami