Costa Vida and Bajio announced on Tuesday that they are joining forces.

Abundant Brands, which owns the Bajio restaurants, will convert its ownership of 16 Bajio Mexican Grills in Utah and Arizona to Costa Vida in the first quarter of 2011, the companies said.

All told, Costa Vida will have 43 locations in the first half of 2011. Costa Vida is adding five stores in northern Utah and Southern Idaho as well.

The Bajio restaurant in American Fork has already closed, and other existing restaurants in Utah County may be closed when the existing Bajio locations are converted to the Costa Vida name, said a Costa Vida spokesman.

Meanwhile, company officials were upbeat about the changes.

"I have been involved with some of the most successful franchise concepts in the world and I am very excited about the opportunity to operate Costa Vida Restaurants," said Abundant Brands CEO Logan Hunter. "As I've carefully studied the Costa Vida product I've concluded that when people try the restaurant, they become hooked. It's about a great menu that gives you a lighter Mexican experience -- one that you can eat several times a month -- and, it's about having a fun, at-the-beach service experience inside each restaurant."

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