Seven months into 2017 and Bubbakoo’s Burritos is already experiencing its greatest year to date. The New Jersey-based fast casual chain—known for its completely customizable, made-to-order burritos—has added six locations since January, more than they’ve added in the previous four years combined.
“Bubbakoo’s fills a unique role in the fast casual restaurant space, providing competition to national chains like Chipotle and Qdoba, as well as various regional outfits,” says Paul Altero, who co-founded Bubbakoo’s with his partner, Bill Hart, in 2008. "We always knew we had something special and hoped we could expand, but we never thought it would happen this quick."
To augment their expansion aspirations, Altero and Hart launched the Bubbakoo’s franchise opportunity in 2015. At the time, there were eight locations in the Jersey Shore area. Today, there are 16 restaurants open and operating throughout the state of New Jersey, five of which are franchised locations. At least two more units are slated to open by the end of the year.
“We’re pretty ambitious and really believe that from a franchising standpoint, we’ve proven the concept,” says Altero, who admits to initiating the franchise strategy to satisfy widespread clamoring from crazed Bubbakoo’s fans calling upon the brand to expand. “However, I don’t think we would have been able to do that if we opened two or three restaurants and then went right to franchise. “We wanted the growth via franchising to mirror the company’s expansion thus far—steady, but smart.
The burgeoning burrito joint with a Jersey Shore "laid back vibe" offers the usual fast-casual burrito fare such as burritos, bowls, tacos, salad, nachos and quesadillas, but with 16 different protein options—including fried chicken, barbecue pork, Buffalo shrimp and Hibachi steak, as well as some more unusual flavors such as ghost pepper chicken and sriracha pork. Vegetarian options include a bean-cheese-guacamole combo and batter-fried jalapeños. And, originals such as The Chiwawa, a cheese-smothered, panko-crusted fried rice ball, keeps Bubbakoo’s faithfuls coming back.
Beyond the menu, Bubbakoo’s offers an environment like no other, with décor reflecting the eatery’s Shore roots, inviting guests to enjoy a host of regional beachside designs, and unmatched service standards that truly make the restaurants feel like home.
“There are too many great things about this brand not to love it,” says franchisee Anthony Di Pierro, who owns and operates the Silverton location with his father and two brothers. “We firmly believe in the Bubbakoo’s philosophy of serving healthier quick serve options with an extraordinary customer service experience. There’s an undeniable buzz around Bubbakoo’s right now, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
Throughout the next several years, Altero and Hart hope to find additional franchise partners to help them expand the Bubbakoo’s brand into other parts of the Tri-State area. The plan is to have 20 total restaurants by the end of this year and an additional 10-15 open in 2018.
Including a franchise fee of $30,000, the initial investment to open a 1,700-2,000 square foot restaurant starts at $161,000.