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AUA Private Equity-Backed Tijuana Flats Restaurants Announces Recipients of First Employee Scholarship Awards of 2017

New York, NY – February 22, 2017AUA Private Equity Partners (“AUA Private Equity”), announced its portfolio company Tijuana Flats Restaurant Group, LLC (“Tijuana Flats”), the fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience, has selected five outstanding student employees in Florida and Virginia to receive $7,500 in scholarships toward their tuitions for the Spring 2017 semester.

The scholarship reward program is part of the company’s Just in Queso Foundation — a company-wide initiative that aids people and organizations in local communities in their time of need and in the unexpected times of tragedy. The Tijuana Flats Just In Queso Foundation awards scholarships twice a year to student employees who best exhibited Tijuana Flats’ core values, with an emphasis on community.

The following employees received scholarships:

  • Heather Smythe, junior at the University of Florida
  • Alexandra Doehnert, senior at Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Ben Fuller, freshman at Liberty University
  • Jenna Chastain, sophomore at the University of Central Florida
  • Erika Martin, junior at the University of Central Florida

The five selected students have been employed with Tijuana Flats for at least one year, are currently enrolled in college, actively volunteer in their communities, and maintain a 3.0 GPA.

“Giving back and helping the community is one of my favorite aspects of Tijuana Flats. I volunteer weekly by lending my own time with a pediatric speech therapist. I also help the community with a variety of other organizations I have volunteered in, including Just in Queso. I was so proud of Tijuana Flats when we reached out to the Pulse victims with support in Orlando after the tragic incident that happened. All of the Tijuana Flats core values have a positive influence on my personal life and work life daily,” said Heather Smythe.

Alexandra Doehnert commented: “I am continuously striving to do better in my everyday life. I work hard and enjoy giving back to others. The Tijuana Flats core values are more than just a list of words; to me, they are a way of living. This scholarship will allow me to continue on the path I have chosen while continuing to give back to the community that has given me so much.”

“Working with Tijuana Flats has helped me realize life is about more than just working,” said Ben Fuller. “We are here on this planet to show love to every single individual we come in contact with. Just in Queso and Tijuana Flats have proven to me that a company can be very successful while also making a difference in communities and the personal lives of employees.”

“The core values of Tijuana Flats that taught me to be a great worker entail all of these qualities. Treat your coworkers with encouragement and also constructive criticism. Do what others cannot or will not do, work hard and with diligence, and you will climb the job ladder in no time. In my personal life, these values apply as well. I have opportunities all around me at my school. I try to treat everyone I encounter with respect. These qualities are not just for a restaurant but should be incorporated in your daily life without having to think about it,” said Jenna Chastain.

“Being a part of the Tijuana Flats team and participating in events has really opened my eyes and helped me come out of my comfort zone,” said Erika Martin. “I’ve learned to interact and be more personable with people, as well as meeting a bunch of awesome families and coworkers.”

Each recipient will be recognized on Tijuana Flats’ social media outlets; receive a private check presentation with regional vice presidents, area supervisors, and general managers; and given school supplies to ensure their continued academic success.

The employee scholarship program began in 2002. To date, the Tijuana Flats Just in Queso Foundation has provided over $37,000 in scholarships to assist employees in continuing their educations. To learn more about Tijuana Flats’ Just In Queso Foundation visit www.tijuanaflats.com/just-in-queso

Tijuana Flats Restaurant

Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Florida, Tijuana Flats Restaurant Group, LLC is a unique, fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring superior guest service and fresh, made-to-order food. Tijuana Flats has 125 locations in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The brand has been named to Fast Casual Magazine’s 2015 & 2016 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list.  For more information on Tijuana Flats, please visit www.tijuanaflats.com

About AUA Equity

AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC is a New York-based, operationally-focused, lower middle-market investment firm providing strategic capital to companies in the consumer, media, or business services sectors with a particular focus on family-owned businesses or companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population.  AUA Private Equity makes equity investments of $15 to $75 million in companies that generate in excess of $5 million in EBITDA. AUA Private Equity currently manages over $275 million* of capital. For more information on AUA Private Equity, please visit www.auaequity.com.

*AUM calculated as of 12/31/2016

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