Rusty Taco Names Operations Vet as its New President

by Katie Lee

Dallas — Rusty Taco has named Daniel Smith, former chief operating officer at Hopdoddy Burger Bar, as its president. With over two decades in the industry holding executive-level positions, Smith brings a proven track record of high-performing restaurant operations and seamless brand experiences for guests. In his new role, he will lead the brand to strengthen its position in the fast-casual space and execute its strategic growth plans.

Smith’s journey in the restaurant industry began with Claim Jumper Restaurants, where he ascended through various roles over his 26 years with the brand, culminating as vice president of operations. His career has also seen him in key positions at notable brands such as Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Bonefish Grill. Additionally, Smith became a multi-unit Pieology franchisee. Most recently, he spent 6 years as chief operating officer at Hopdoddy Burger Bar.

In 2022, Rusty Taco was acquired by Gala Capital Partners (GCP), a California-based private investment firm. In addition to Rusty Taco, GCP is also the parent company of MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes and Dunn Brothers Coffee.

“It’s an exciting time for Rusty Taco, and with the addition of Daniel, we are looking forward to growing,” says Anand Gala, founder and managing partner of GCP. “This strategic move will guide Rusty Taco to becoming a leading fast-casual brand in the taco category, and we are confident that Daniel has the vision and experience needed to take it there. We can’t wait to see how Rusty Taco develops in the year ahead and beyond.”

Current franchise growth is targeted in key states like Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Florida with experienced operators who have a love for the food industry and an understanding of business ownership.

Rusty Taco was created by founder Rusty Fenton, who along with his wife, Denise Fenton, opened the first Rusty Taco location in Dallas in 2010. Today, Rusty Taco has more than 30 locations across 13 states and is currently franchising in available markets throughout the United States. For more information, visit and

SOURCE: Rusty Taco

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