As you are in Bakersfield, can we assume you know something about Mexican cooking? The fact that you mention a chain as an example of your aspiration aside, the first step to a great burrito operation has to be the ingredients, especially the meat options (the more and tastier the better), but also the beans, rice and so on? You ought to be able to find plenty of folks in the Central Valley who know how to fold a burrito.
Does anyone out there have any experience opening or working at a burrito shop? Comparable to Chipotle or Qdoba? I’m looking to open a small shop with quick assembly line style burritos made in front of the customer? I’d like to get as much info about the quick service food business as possible. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
LBJ, you should add the Chili Verde to your menu.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. It would be very difficult for me to work a second job in a place like this to gain experience. I may try to befriend an owner of a small establishment and get some insight on what it takes to run it. As long as I can convince him that I’m not directly trying to compete with him. Heck, I’d be wiling to work there on my off days for free just to gain experience.
The concept sounds quite similar to a hugely successful Boston mini-chain, Anna’s Taquerias. Was once written up in the NY Times online as worth a day trip to Boston and even has a Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna's_Taqueria
Sort of an abbreviated version of a Mission Taqueria. Counter at the first one is maybe 12 feet, including register. Two types of beans, rice, maybe 5-6 fillings (at least one being a good veggie option), couple of salsas. Anything can be served burritoed, tacoed, etc. But it’s all their own and fresh. Qdoba tastes like Old El Paso cans by comparison. A friend from LA was complaining about there being no good burritos in Boston and when I mentioned Anna’s she said, they’re good, they’re just too clean.
I recall reading an article when they were first taking off that the owner was shortly out of college, from the Bay Area, and had a relative with a successful burrito chain. Went looking for an area with a young receptive population and picked Boston (actually started in Brookline). Picked the name Anna so it would be near the top of phone/restaurant listings. First location was probably almost the size you’re talking about, then picked up the lease on the store next door for more dining area and then opened another a half-mile away to pick up the overflow and expanded foot traffic. Many others have sprung up since then, Herrera’s even serves out of pushcarts in the business/shopping district, but Anna’s seems to maintain its niche with reliable quality, cheap prices, and targeting areas with college students.
Of course, that’s Boston, where it’s not that long ago that Jack in the Box was considered Mexican. But the model might be worth a look.
sounds like you are full of inspiration. by the request you have made, i get the impression you haven’t actually worked in this field before. that, is a big drawback. you should take a job, if only for a short while, at a nice burrito/taco place, and learn the ropes first hand. ‘just because you have a bucket of paint and a 6 pack of brushes, don’t make you an artist’. your ideals are commendable, but you must understand that working in the food industry is not all that glamorous, nor easy. as far as your menu idea, you stated you want to keep it simple and fast, but no canned products. well that is a contradiction of terms. fresh made ingredients will take some time, and more kitchen equipment will be required. you can easily start up and run with only 100k, heck, for half that if you know what you are doing, but you must be smart in your equipment purchases, and you must know in advance to what level you want to grow. as your business needs grow, you must prepare for that before you ever begin..
BT those pics are great! good looking place.
pismo beach…ahhhh memories…. i wonder if ‘Harrys is still there? they make a mean long island iced tea….
my ex had a few one time, and lost her weddin ring while praying to the porcelin gods… the staff looked for hours…..
she found it in her pocket…..what a crazy nite… great little burrito place there too.
I like the sound of your operation, here is my suggestion. Once you get the menu down and begin to source your products look to the quality end of the scale. Seperate your business from the others by serving and maintaining fresh high-quality products that your customers can see and taste. Show them fresh herbs going into products and make the food stand out, let your advertising be on the plate!!! Sounds like an interesting venture, the best of luck to you. Byron[8D]
Those pictures were really nice. And I checked out Senor Sam’s site. It looks good and if I get up that way I will go to the location on Talent Avenue in the town of Talent because I bet they have the most talent .
LBJ.. Your location sounds like a winner even if you HAD lots of competition.
Just do it right and you will be fine.
I’m looking to keep the menu very simple. Burritos, tacos, and quesadillas and salad. Grilled steak, carnitas, grilled chicken. Black beans, pintos, brown rice, white rice. Everything made daily, no canned products, and a few types of salsa. My location is adjacent to 16 auto dealerships, and borders a large residential area as well as other small office business. I need to keep it simple and fast because lunch will be the main source of revenue. There are no other food joints in a 2 mile radius, plus the owner of the building plans to add a Starbuck’s two doors down from my suite. You can’t go wrong buddying up with Starbuck’s. I’m figuring $100,000 should get me going considering the owner will build to suit and I’ll add the equipment, inventory, insurance, and all the other goodies which go into starting up. Anybody know if $100,000 is a realistic start up capital? Keep in mind, this will be a very small joint. 25′ wide by 45′ deep.
LBJ, if you want to see how to run a burrito joint, hop on a plane and come to Chicago. We’ve got about a bazillion mom & pop burrito houses, taquerias and small Mexican restaurants here. They’re custom making burritos with fresh, high quality ingredients, for legions of customers, almost as quick as you can order them.
Forget about Chipotle and Qdoba as your model. If you want to see how to do a burrito the right way, fast, come visit us here on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The PV menu looks too complex BT, though good. I mentioned the Sam’s place because they are disciplined about keeping the menu tight and simple, so you know what you want no matter which one you are in, and they can keep the line moving. Alas, like you, I’m a burrito fan, not a worker, so I don’t have any business insights.
Well, I hope my colleagues here can give you specific help. I can’t, really, because I’m just a burrito lover, not a restaurant pro. One suggestion I can give you: take a weekend and hop the AMTRAK San Joaquin (unless you’re masochistic enough to want to drive) to San Francisco’s Mission District and check out the taquerias. They are all the prototypes of Chipotle but independently run and you should get plenty of ideas. Here’s the serving line at Pancho Villa, probably the closest to what you have in mind in that it’s a smoothly run operation with a popular product:
This is their menu:
This is the line at El Farolito, a smaller neighborhood place:
and here’s another view:
and here’s a carne asada sandwich:
off this grill:
And finally, their burrito (looks like carnitas, my favorite:
These places are all pretty similar and IMHO are what you want to duplicate, but, as I said, you have to start with some knowledge of making a great chile colorado, carnitas and other great fillings.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.