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Blacktop Restaurant Group Is Building an Empire With a Foundation of Sandwiches and Tacos

Written By: Ben Hitch
Photographed By: Brianna Moss Blacktop Restaurant Group

There should only be a handful of things you think of when you hear the word blacktop: tetherball during recess, “shooting some b-ball outside of school” with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and a restaurant group stemming from a duo born and raised in SoCal.

The brainchild of Craig Applegate and Clayton Wheeler, Blacktop Restaurant Group is the driving force behind an expanding collection that includes Board and Brew and Casero Taqueria, with the potential of more to come.

Though Applegate and Wheeler can’t remember the exact date they met (it dates back to diapers), they found success in their collaborative efforts after helping to open Rimel’s of Del Mar. In and out of the restaurant, they were friends and partners, and the pair had sights on bringing the best food to greater San Diego County all under one name: Blacktop Restaurant Group. 

Blacktop Restaurant Group was founded in 2014, a year after the duo opened its first Board and Brew in Carlsbad Village. After the immediate success, it was off to the races with visions of a second, third and eventually a seventh. “The Blacktop Group had to be formed, because with any more than one, it’s a group,” added Wheeler. There is no doubt Board and Brew set the foundation for Blacktop, and despite Applegate and Wheeler being called nuts for wanting to open a Mexican restaurant in SoCal, they added Casero Taqueria to both Bressi Ranch and their portfolio. And truly, Casero Taqueria was the goal from the start, “to open something that was truly ours, and now we’re pressing nearly 800 tacos a day,” they mentioned, calculator in-hand.

Blacktop is now the mothership to eight restaurants with a mixture of sandwiches, brews, margaritas and thousands of tacos. It’s a team of roughly 200 employees that have come to form a family. As one of the fathers of that family, Applegate said,“it has been amazing to see all the employees grow on both a personal and professional level within the Blacktop family.”

As the kitchens close and doors get locked up for the day, Applegate and Wheeler are excited about the future and the momentum they have. Neither could point to the number of ventures they hope to open. “It’s truly all about bringing the food we love into new, rad communities and sharing our passion with the world we grew up in,” they explained. Simply put, Blacktop Restaurant Group is focused on putting out the best they can, and when the time is right, perhaps another Board and Brew, a second Casero Taqueria or a totally new concept will be opening in your neighborhood.

Blacktop Restaurant Group