Insisting on "Fresh": Barberitos corners the market on healthy Southwestern fare

Barberitos’ new multimedia advertising campaign reminds hungry devotees of Southwestern cuisine to “Eat with your head.” And the company has the story to back it up.

“We believe,” says Lynn Bearden, Barberitos Director of Franchise Development, “that yesterday’s veggies don’t belong in today’s burrito. We also know that frozen veggies and frozen chicken simply won’t cut it in our stores.” And then she added a kicker. “You’ll never find a microwave in any Barberitos restaurant.”

While each ingredient goes beyond just fresh, the company’s insistence on “fresh” pays off with great taste as well. In its hometown of Athens, Georgia, Barberitos was recently voted the city’s Best Burrito for an unprecedented 12th year in a row.

Barberitos’ Southwestern-inspired grille concept has grown from a single store in downtown Athens to 39 current stores in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. Barberitos’ expansive menu and high standards make it a leader in a marketplace where Southwestern food continues to grow in popularity.

“Every location,” Bearden continues, “offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, along with hormone-free, grass-fed meats.” She then pointed out that “within the rapidly growing fast-casual segment of the quick-service restaurant industry, freshly made, never-frozen food appeals to consumers who have grown wary of the not-so-healthy options they used to settle for.”

Starting off in 2015 with 57 signed restaurant locations, Barberitos plans on doubling in size this year, while remaining committed to the southeastern United States. The company is looking to expand into Alabama and Mississippi, and to enter more markets in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

The brand is recruiting potential licensees who know their local areas well. “One of the keys to Barberitos’ success is that our franchise partners are invested in their local communities,” says Bearden. Prior restaurant experience is not required, but franchisees must have an owner mentality with an incentive to keep day-to-day operations running at their very best. The company is looking for licensees with liquid assets of $200,000 and a net worth of $700,000.

Typically, the process of opening a Barberitos franchise takes six to eight months. Often, the most time-intensive part of the process is finding a suitable location, ideally 1,850 to 2,800 square feet. Usually, because of the additional investment involved, the company avoids free-standing locations. In addition to sophisticated computer-generated reports, the company relies heavily on the licensees’ familiarity with their areas. “We have great respect for local knowledge,” Bearden says.

While many companies in the quick-service industry offer “site-only” franchise agreements, Barberitos provides licensees with protected areas of at least a mile. Barberitos also offers support from its corporate team every step of the way, from design and construction to opening the restaurant to everyday business management and marketing. “We will always treat all of our licensee partners with respect,” Bearden says. “They will never be just a number to us.”

For more information about franchising opportunities with Barberitos, visit