(June 14) NEW YORK — Wendy’s International Inc. has signed an agreement to acquire Fresh Enterprises Inc., owner and operator of the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill restaurant chain.

According to a news release, the price tag will be $275 million for the rapidly growing Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based operator of 169 restaurants in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Baja Fresh, founded in 1990, had only 45 restaurants in 1998. Completion of the sale is expected in June.

Wendy’s, with $8.3 billion in sales, has big growth plans — it wants to have as many as 700 Baja Fresh locations in five years.

“Baja Fresh is an excellent addition to our company and a great fit for our long-term growth strategy,” Wendy’s chairman and chief executive officer Jack Schuessler said in the release. “We have been actively pursuing concepts in the rapidly growing, fast-casual restaurant segment, and Baja Fresh is clearly the best in the Mexican category.

“It is a well-managed company with a focus on restaurant operations, food quality and growth.”

Baja Fresh’s focus also reveals itself in its name, considering that all produce is sliced fresh daily.

According to Greg Dollarhyde, president and chief executive officer of the company, that’s what sets Baja Fresh apart.

“Our approach to fresh food preparation is integral to the concept, as the restaurants prepare all menu items without the use of freezers, microwaves, can openers or MSG,” he said in the release.

The restaurant’s menu offers Mexican food, including burritos, tacos, nachos, charbroiled fish tacos, salads, quesadillas and other entrees made-to-order. In addition, Baja Fresh’s salsas are prepared fresh on-site and are offered at all-you-can-eat salsa bars.