9 Things You Might Not Know About Moe’s Southwest Grill
The relatively young fast casual restaurant (it's been around since 2000!) focuses on fresh ingredients and a distinct personality.
1. THERE IS NO "MOE."
The name originated as an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers,” a meaning that’s reflected in the music and music-related artwork at Moe’s restaurants. In 2010, Moe’s even held a contest to scout musician look-alikes (calling for anyone who’s a “dead ringer for a dead rocker”) to be featured in portraits on the walls.
2. MANY OF THE MENU ITEM NAMES ARE POP CULTURE REFERENCES.
You don't have to be well-versed in pop culture side-gags to order from Moe's, but it might add some laughs to your meal. The burritos, tacos, and even salsa names include subtle references to Seinfeld (Art Vandalay), Caddyshack (Billy Barou), and The Usual Suspects (Who is Kaiser Salsa).
3. MOE'S LISTENS TO THEIR CUSTOMERS.
Along with the more recognizable TexMex fare on the menu—like nachos or tacos—Moe’s features the Stack: two crunchy corn tortillas filled with beans, cheese, pico de gallo, Moe’s Famous Queso, and either meat or veggies that are then wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and grilled. The Stack originally debuted in 2011 and was supposed to be a short-lived special. However, a group of dedicated fans created a Facebook page beseeching Moe’s to bring back the Stack. So Moe’s did, re-introducing the item as a permanent feature on the menu in 2012.
4. YOU CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR LUNCH FROM MOE'S.
In addition to the clever food names, Moe’s distinguishes itself from other fast casual restaurants with fresh and healthy ingredients. There are no microwaves, freezers, trans fats, or MSG at Moe’s. The chicken is cage-free and steroid-free, the pork is grain-fed, the steak is grass-fed, and the tofu is organic. There are also over 20 different gluten-free ingredients and the grilled vegetables are prepared on a separate surface from the meat to accommodate vegetarians.
5. THERE MAY NOT BE ANY FREEZERS IN MOE'S, BUT THERE CAN BE MOE'S IN YOUR FREEZER.
In 2011, Moe’s partnered with BJ’s Wholesale Club to release a line of prepared foods including empanadas, tacos, and even their popular guacamole.
6. MOE'S TAKES ENVIRONMENTALISM SERIOUSLY.
That’s evident in the food they serve but also in the buildings that they serve it out of. In June of 2011, a Moe’s in Williston, Vermont became the first restaurant of any kind in the state to earn an LEED Silver certification. The local franchisees took two years to build a restaurant that makes use of LED lighting, energy efficient cooking equipment, locally-sourced building material, low flow sink aerators, low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and an advanced air conditioning system that should reduce energy consumption up to 22 percent.
A few months later, a location in Atlanta became a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant®.
7. THEY LET A FAN DESIGN ONE OF THEIR SALSAS.
In 2012, Moe’s had a contest that asked fans to “Raise the Salsa Bar” by submitting their own recipes for expert and fan judgment. The winner was Cheryl Gallowitz, a veterinary technician from Newberry, Fla., who called her creation—popular with friends and family—“Three Bears Salsa.” There’s nothing too outrageous in Three Bears—diced tomato, onion, red pepper, green pepper, tomatillo, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, red wine vinegar, sea salt and lime juice—but that just might be the secret to success.
“I think it just had a lot of ingredients that everyone was familiar with,” Gallowitz said at the time. A year after the contest, Moe’s featured Three Bears Salsa at their restaurants for six months.
8. MOE'S IS GROWING FAST.
Earlier this year, the 15-year-old Moe’s opened its 600th location in Salt Lake City, the first in Utah. With 70 scheduled openings in 2015 alone, that number has long since been surpassed. Also this past year, Moe’s was voted into the top spot for a Mexican food chain by consumers in Restaurant Business Magazine.
9. THERE'S A MOE'S OF THE FUTURE.
It doesn’t have any holograms but it does have charging stations at the tables and a designated line for mobile and online orders. In September, the chain opened their first “Moe’s of the Future” in Roswell, Ga. to serve as a testing ground for layout, culinary offerings, customer service practices and operation procedures without impacting all 600-some restaurants. Other debut upgrades include all-digital menu boards and a larger visible prep area.