Cilantro Taco Grill’s Mission Goes Beyond Tacos and Burritos

Cilantro Taco Grill franchise

Grammy Winner Pitbull Joins Forces with Immigrant Entrepreneur Temoc Morfin for Franchise Success

Cilantro Taco Grill founder and CEO Temoc Morfin lives the quintessential immigrant success story. A decade ago, he started a string of his fast-casual restaurants in the Chicago area, and today he’s spreading the brand throughout the United States via franchising.

Born in Mexico, Morfin came to the United States in 1981 when he was 11 years old. It was a tough adjustment to a new culture, a difficult language and a different climate. The family had pulled up stakes when his dad, Javier “Don Javi” Morfin, wanted to make more opportunities available to his 11 children.

That goal played out to perfection for Morfin, who was the first member of his family to go to college. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in 1996. Afterward, he dabbled in politics for a while, but ultimately concluded that his true passion lay in owning a business – one that shared his ancestors’ recipes through culinary arts.

Cilantro Taco Grill Is Born

In June 2013, Morfin opened Cilantro Taco Grill, which showcases the authentic taste sensations of Jalisco, in his birth country of Mexico. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Cilantro Taco Grill offers its signature tacos, steaks, burritos and quesadillas; rice and beans; a variety of salsas (also sold by the bottle); an array of taco options; guacamole; distinctive beverages and desserts … and more.

That first restaurant was a hit, and he opened a second Cilantro Taco Grill just seven months later. Morfin’s endgame was for all 10 of his siblings to have a Cilantro Taco Grill location to operate. He can check that box now: The restaurant has 15 locations today, more than enough. Three additional Cilantro Taco Grill restaurants are in development, and through franchising, even more will enter the pipeline.

Cilantro Taco Grill Franchise Partners

Morfin aims to grow his restaurant concept to 1,000-plus units worldwide over the next 10 years. To promote the franchise, the brand teamed up with Grammy Award-winning artist Armando Christian Pérez, aka “Pitbull,” and Fransmart.

Cilantro Taco Grill franchise
CEO Temoc Morfin (right) poses with Grammy Awarding-wining artist Armando Christian Pérez, aka “Pitbull.”

Fransmart has over two decades of experience in connecting entrepreneurs with emerging franchises and has sold more than 5,000 franchise units, many of them restaurant concepts, worldwide. The franchise development company extols the opportunities at Cilantro Taco Grill by saying: “You get the authentic flavors of a Jaliscan taqueria and the scalability of Chipotle, all under the same roof!”

Morfin’s Various Goals

Beyond setting up a plan for franchisees’ success, Morfin generates life-changing employment opportunities. “One of my main missions with Cilantro Taco Grill is to provide more jobs for people in Mexico,” he says. “Ever since I founded Cilantro Taco Grill, the raw ingredients for all of its famous salsas have been grown and cooked in Mexico. I often visit the salsa operation, and it’s great to see the happy employees there.”

He also created employment opportunities at his tortilla factory in Stone Park, Ill for the brands corporate locations. “I used to outsource the corn tortillas, but now we make our own. Every day we produce about 10,000 corn tortillas prepared from all natural ingredients and using no genetically modified corn.” The factory supplies Cilantro Taco Grill restaurants and also sells fresh handmade tortillas, masa fresca, salsas and tacos de carnitas on the premises. The takeaway: Morfin has created sustainable job opportunities for the tortilla factory, his Chicagoland restaurants and at the jalapeno farm factory in Mexico.

Cilantro Taco Grill Franchise

He also is a big believer in empowering other Latin business owners. When he launched the Cilantro Taco Grill franchise this year with Peréz/Pitbull as a partner, both men encouraged Hispanics to own franchises. “Through these franchises, entrepreneurs can follow a road map to financial prosperity, and I hope that employees in my restaurants will one day be able to own and operate franchises,” Morfin says. 

Inspired by His Father

Cilantro Taco Grill Franchise

“The mission of our brand is to provide customers from all walks of life with high-quality, authentic Mexican food in loving memory of my father, ‘Don Javi’ Morfin. We serve our Cilantro Taco Grill customers with the inviting, welcoming spirit that he shared throughout his life.”

“Don Javi had an entrepreneurial tenacity and tireless work ethic. But Don Javi also had a great sense of humor and an upbeat personality that was contagious. He’s the inspiration behind all Cilantro Taco Grill locations, the Cilantro Tortilla Factory, and Don Javi retail food products like the Cilantro Famous House Salsa.” Proceeds from takeout meals, dining in at the restaurants, catering and product sales provide Cilantro Taco Grill franchisees with multiple revenue streams. Franchisees also appreciate that they can convert other restaurant brands’ sites to Cilantro Taco Grill locations and that the brand’s highly organized kitchen requires only a minimal staff to operate – even during rush periods. To learn more about franchise opportunities with Cilantro Taco Grill, please visit

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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