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Modular taco concept coming to Springfield, Branson

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Last edited 1:38 p.m., April 11, 2018

The founder of BYOPizza is working on a modular taco concept he plans to first launch in Springfield and Branson.

Michael Felts, who’s no longer involved in the ownership of BYOPizza, is targeting a summer opening for the venture, dubbed Taco Habitat.

Tomorrow, Felts expects to finalize a ground lease at developer Brad Thessing’s Glenstone Marketplace at 3333 S. Glenstone Ave. A second shop in Branson, located near downtown and the intersection of Highways 76 and 65, would open ideally by the end of August, he said.

Felts said he’s working with Charlotte, North Carolina-based Boxman Studios on the modular construction projects involving shipping containers.

“I was trying to think of a way to use recycled, repurposed materials to build the facilities. I started looking into buying containers and doing it myself. There’s a lot of restrictions and stuff that go into it,” he said. “Then I found a company in North Carolina that specializes in all of that and has all of their certifications.”

Boxman Studios will design and build the restaurants off-site in North Carolina and deliver them to Felts’ restaurant sites. Felts said if the lease is signed tomorrow at Glenstone Marketplace, it would take Boxman Studios about 45 days to build the facility and another two weeks to deliver and install it.

In Branson, Felts purchased vacant acreage for $1.35 million. Each facility built by Boxman Studios costs about $1.5 million, putting Felts’ initial investment at roughly $4.35 million.

Felts, the sole owner of Taco Habitat, said he’s worked on the concept for more than three years. Additional locations are likely, he said.

“We are kicking around the idea of franchising or opening a lot of corporate stores pretty rapidly,” he said, noting a third Taco Habitat is in the works. “It all depends on how well the first one does.”

Felts said Taco Habitat will focus on environmentally friendly materials, as well as organic and locally sourced ingredients for tacos, burritos, tortas and other menu options.

“It also will raise awareness on how we eat and raise awareness on how we affect the environment,” he said.

Felts’ involvement in BYOPizza led to the 2013 launch of the restaurant at 431 S. Jefferson Ave. He later entered a partnership deal with Ryan O’Reilly, Jason Graf and Paul Freeman. The restaurant is now owned by O’Reilly, Felts said. He declined to disclose more details about the ownership change, though Springfield Business Journal archives indicate Felts had become a minority shareholder in 2015.

Felts built his career in the film, television and music industries before shifting to the restaurant business. Felts directed a film dubbed, “Yorktown,” in 2011, and said he’s still involved in the business, mostly in writing and recording music.


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