Keokuk couple bringing Tex Mex restaurant chain to building at 30th and Broadway, plan to open after Christmas

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QUINCY — A Tex Mex chain that opened its first restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa, and now has more than 70 locations in 13 states is coming to Quincy.

Pancheros Mexican Grill, headquartered in Coralville, Iowa, will fill one of three spaces for retail businesses in a building on the northeast corner of 30th and Broadway in front of Planet Fitness. Verizon already is a tenant in the 6,000-square-foot building, owned by Marx Commercial Properties.

The restaurant will be owned by Jon and Amanda Morris of Keokuk, Iowa, who signed a lease with Marx in May. They hope for the business to be operational shortly after Christmas.

Jon Morris previously worked for a Fayetteville, Ark.-based company that owned 30 Sonic restaurants. He was a partner in seven of the stores and was building an eighth store at 1501 Broadway in Quincy when his partners chose to sell the first seven stores a year and a half ago.

“We kept the Quincy store because we knew it was still in the building process,” Morris said. “It’s hard to put a price on something that you don’t know what it’s going to do. We’re glad we kept it, because the Quincy Sonic has done very well in the last year and a half and continues to do well. Honestly, that’s what made my wife and I choose Quincy for the Pancheros.

“After we sold the Sonics, we discussed several concepts and looked at several. We really believed in the product, and it was a good fit for us. That’s what we ultimately landed on. I love the food, and I eat there all the time. I traveled a lot for Sonic, and I would stop at Pancheros frequently.”

The couple, who met while working for Sonic, will own their first Pancheros. Their plan is to be owner-operators, at least at first.

“There’s already a Pancheros in Burlington, Iowa, and for its population, (Burlington is) a bit saturated on fast casual and QSR (quick service) restaurants,” Morris said. “Quincy was the next logical choice, and we’re not committed to stop there. If things go well, we may look at other local towns.”

Pancheros doesn’t offer drive-thru service. Instead, customers can come inside to eat or take their food to go.

“You walk through a line, but it’s quick,” Morris said. “It’s kind of like fast-food meets a sit-down restaurant.”

Pancheros is likely best known for making its fresh pressed tortillas.

“The queso also is top-notch,” Morris said. “Everything is made fresh daily. I come from a fast-food environment where we put stuff in the fryer and put it on the grill to serve guests. Pancheros is making stuff from scratch every day, and I was blown away when I learned that. The fresh press tortillas are kind of what puts them above the competition.”

The first store opened in 1992 in Iowa City next to the University of Iowa campus. The next 10 locations opened in college towns throughout the Midwest. Pancheros was revamped in 1998 to include the addition of a dough press for the fresh-pressed tortillas, as well as an updated, more upscale restaurant decor.

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