Minchow’s to expand food offerings

A franchise change at Minchow’s Food Court in Lovell will lead to new opportunities for customers at the restaurant, owner Jim Minchow and store manager Lori Scheffler said Tuesday.The Taco John’s Corp. has pulled its Taco John’s Mexpress franchise under which the Food Court has operated for 15 years, and unless the Lovell store chooses to move to a full Taco John’s franchise – which would be costly and force the removal of Blimpie Subs and Salads from the food court -- Minchow and Scheffler said they will have no choice but to pull Taco John’s.That change will take place on June 1, they said.Minchow explained that the Food Court has operated under a series of five-year contracts with Taco John’s since its opening in June of 1997, and after the first two contracts were up and the third renewed, the company had technically removed the Mexpress franchise from its offerings but allowed the Lovell store to continue since plans were being formed for a small-town franchise. But that franchise was also discontinued, Minchow said, leaving him with few options.Minchow and Scheffler said they would have to go to a full Taco John’s franchise with a minimum $150,000 investment including changes to the building and a $75,000 franchise fee, plus lose Blimpie and likely the Ice Cream Hut portion of the food court, which includes Wilcoxson’s ice cream.And so the Food Court will move in a new, positive direction, Minchow and Scheffler said, and expand their product line. Taste testing is already under way for many new offerings that could include an expanded hamburger line, a new line of tacos, burritos and nachos, chicken wings, hot wings, chicken strips, corndogs, a shrimp basket, a fish sandwich, jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks and breaded mushrooms.“It’s exciting, but it’s kind of sad, in a way,” said Minchow, who has been proud to have a Taco John’s at the Food Court. “We’ll continue to offer good service and keep it clean.”“I think it’s exciting,” Scheffler agreed. “It’ll be good.”Minchow said he has already ordered new menu boards and will update and do some painting on the building. There will eventually be some remodeling, too, he said.By David Peck