Baja Fresh is a chain of fast-casual Tex Mex restaurants founded in Newbury Park, California in 1990 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and is owned by Canadian franchisor MTY Food Group. The chain emphasizes fresh ingredients, and each restaurant features a self-serve salsa bar.
At the time of its acquisition by MTY in 2016, the chain operated 162 restaurants in the United States, Dubai, and Singapore, most of which are franchised.
In 1990, Jim and Linda Magglos took out a third mortgage on their home and opened the first Baja Fresh in Newbury Park, California in the Conejo Valley. Franchising began in 1995, and the chain had expanded to 31 outlets by 1997. In 1998, the Magglos worked with Greg Dollarhyde and Pete Siracusa, who recapitalized the parent company, acquired venture capital and bought shares from outside holders to take control of Baja Fresh. Dollarhyde became CEO with Siracusa as Chairman and Magglos as President, they then grew the chain from 45 locations in 1998 to 249 stores.
In 2002, Wendy's International purchased Baja Fresh for $275 million. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Wendy's, the 249 restaurant chain saw consistently declining same store sales. In 2006, Wendy's sold the roughly 300-location Baja Fresh chain for $31 million to BF Acquisition Holdings, a private investor consortium that had operated franchised restaurant units for such chains as Sweet Factory, Cinnabon and Denny's. At the time of the firm's acquisition by BF Acquisition Holdings in 2006, Baja Fresh had 144 company-owned and 154 franchised locations located in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington as well as the District of Columbia. The consortium was led by David Kim, who took on the role of CEO, and later appeared on Season 2 episode 20 of the reality TV series Undercover Boss.