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.


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.


Let's give 'em something to taco 'bout #NationalTacoDay

Posted by Moe's Southwest Grill on Sunday, October 4, 2015

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).


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.


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. 


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.


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®.


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.


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.


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.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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