“I’m not just running a restaurant. I’m building a brand.”
I’m not sure if this was the first thing Mo Assi of Crush Taco said to me. But it was close.
And it doesn’t take a long time in his presence, or at his table, for you to buy into the vision for this brand and the man behind it.
Crush Taco has been open in Frisco for 4 years. It’s become a favorite among locals, with unique flavors, crave-worthy combinations, and service that goes above and beyond the ordinary.
But the dream for Crush has much deeper roots, going back to the childhood of Mo Assi, chef and owner, where food and family were the centerpiece. And then, to the late 90’s when food television was just becoming a thing and a young and impressionable Assi saw Emeril Lagasse cook live, on tv. He saw this larger than life personality making food fun and approachable and, well, cool.
And Mo was officially hooked. Hooked enough to go to culinary school and hooked enough to spend 15 years in the grueling world of some of Dallas’s finest steakhouses.
Hooked enough to go all-in when it was time to open Crush, creating all of the recipes on a whiteboard in his garage, working non-stop to perfect some of the flavors we now know, love and, yes, even obsess over.
His experience in the industry is evident throughout Crush. He prides himself on consistently raising his own bar, striving always for progress, never for perfection (though most die-hards would say he comes close). His blood, sweat, and tears are in every recipe, every inch of the restaurant.
It’s as if he is putting his heart out there every day when he opens his doors.
And Mo is not a man to cut corners or go halfway. This is a man who puts pride into every plate that goes out, every taco he creates. The sauces? Every single one made in-house. The rice? Slow simmered in vegetable broth with a mix of spices created especially for him. The salsa verde? It took months to create, but when they got it right, they got it right.
And Mo believes food should be right. Because he’s building a brand, remember?
I opened Crush Taco with the goal of building a brand/concept, Now 4 years into the brand we are on our way. Crush Taco a local brand that has quickly become a household name here in Frisco, I love being apart of this community and we are excited to be able to have the opportunity to grow our brand here.
And therein lies the difference. All of these flavors, all of this perfection, mean nothing to Mo if they can’t become part of the brand. And building a brand requires consistency. It requires processes. It requires, above all else, teamwork.
Mo’s goal is to franchise, first locally, staying close enough to Frisco that he can be there to help and keep a watchful eye as his dream grows. And he dreams bigs, that’s for sure. Beyond franchises, he wants to bottle and sell his sauces (this foodie for one, will be purchasing them in bulk when he does) and he wants to grow as a chef right alongside his brand.
He never says no to an opportunity, participating once on Guy’s Grocery Games on the Food Network and teaching cooking classes at Market Street, Central Market, and Premiere Grilling.
He knows growing his own brand will help him grow Crush’s brand—they are intricately tied to each other. But, and this is a big but, Mo is a perfectionist. He knows that in order to maintain the quality he demands, growth has to be smart and controlled and, most of all, replicable.
And this is where creative genius meets smart business.
Because everything at Crush, from the recipes to the training to the ordering, is built around processes. Processes that can be replicated by anyone within the Crush family. Processes that he’s always refining, always perfecting.
There’s nothing on the menu that only Mo can make. There are no secrets and there is no ego. There are processes. And recipes. And he wants everyone on his twenty-person team, from his full-time chefs to his part-time high schoolers, to know how to batter shrimp, caramelize cauliflower, and fry chicken (tenderloins only, of course).
He wants these processes easy to replicate because that is how you manage to grow a restaurant while maintaining perfection and this is the only way Mo will work.
At Crush Taco our team members are trained in every aspect of the restaurant. From register and counter service to cooking and cleaning, every team member is also trained on how to make everything on the menu. I feel if you can’t teach someone how to make a recipe, you really don’t have a recipe at all. Consistency is the key in this business and that could make or break a business.
This is why, every time you walk into Crush’s Frisco location, you’re going to get an amazing taco, no matter who is in the kitchen. And it’s also why, at the next Crush Taco, wherever it is, you can be confident that the tacos will be the same delicious tacos, time and time again.
And the food… We can’t write about Crush without talking about the food. Good is an understatement and great still isn’t quite strong enough. Extraordinary comes as close as you can to hitting the mark.
This isn’t Tex-Mex. It’s not Mexican. It’s Chef-Driven contemporary cuisine in a fast-casual setting. This label, this conscious decision to stay true to food without restricting himself by cuisine and pigeonholes, allows for tremendous creativity.
The tacos and bowls at Crush aren’t what you expect. This is not shredded meat thrown haphazardly on top of soggy lettuce topped with a run of the mill pico. This is texture. And flavor. Layers and layers of flavor. They’re carefully curated works of taco art, and they’re as unexpected and surprising as they are delicious.
Take, for instance, the best-selling Cornflake-Crusted Shrimp Taco with its hand-breaded shrimp topping and carefully shredded slaw, topped with dynamite sauce. (No, we don’t know exactly what dynamite sauce is. No, we don’t care because it’s delicious).
The Cauliflower Taco — bear with me on this one — is the best taco I have ever had, meat or no meat. Hands down. Caramelized cauliflower is topped with creamy yogurt, spicy pepitas and a charred (yes, charred) lemon on the side. I’m craving one as I write these words.
Every single taco on this menu is a work of art. Every single one is delicious and stands alone. And because Mo has worked diligently to create processes and strive for consistency, every single one is mind-blowing, every single time.
As for Mo, he’s a character. It’s no wonder he idolized Emeril as a kid. He’s got the same way about him, big personality, big heart. He knows his customers, often by name. He builds his business by creating relationships, treating everyone from his newest employee to his long-standing vendors to his top clients with the same respect, courtesy and care.
He invests in his team, cares for them and personally pours into them. Experience is nice, but not necessary because as Mo says, “I can teach someone how to cook, I can’t teach personality.”
And even though he’s bound for big things and intent on building a brand that extends far beyond his North Frisco door, this is Crush’s home, and Mo intends to keep it that way. A fact which should have every foodie and taco lover in town cheering loud and proud.
Photos courtesy of Crush Taco.
Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
11445 Dallas Parkway #230
Frisco, TX, 75033