Bubbakoo’s Burritos, a Jersey Shore-based eatery that touts Mexican food fused with American flavor, is working its way down the Atlantic City Expressway and headed straight for Philadelphia. The first Brotherly Love location is slated to open in fall 2019, and will be owned and operated by Asim Chaudhry, who also owns the locations in Hamilton and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
With 24 locations already open and operating throughout New Jersey, over half of which have opened within the past year, the local expansion plans are part of a regional initiative to open franchise locations in other parts of the northeast. While there are no set locations at this point, co-founder Paul Altero believes the Philadelphia area can hold as many as five restaurants.
“Being on the Shore, we have acquired many loyal fans from Philadelphia who are begging us to bring Bubbakoo’s closer to home,” says Altero. “We made small steps, expanding to Cherry Hill and closer to the Pennsylvania border, and we are thrilled to officially enter Philadelphia. We are thrilled to be able to make our customers’ dreams a reality.”
Bubbakoo’s offers the usual fast-casual burrito fare such as burritos, tacos, bowls and quesadillas, but with 16 different protein options, including crispy buffalo chicken, hibachi steak and shrimp, Sriracha shredded pork, and Southern-style barbecue chicken and 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.
The burgeoning burrito joint also offers sides such as jalapeño poppers, Southwest egg rolls, chips, salsa, queso, guacamole, curly fries and nachos, as well as desserts including batter-fried Oreo cookies and “love chips,” which are tortilla chips dusted in powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel or raspberry syrup.
“There’s a lot of competition in the nearly $23 billion market that makes up Mexican limited service restaurants, but we have a menu you won’t find anywhere else,” says Altero. “Our offerings are different. There aren’t a lot of places you’re going to get a cooked-to-order hibachi steak and shrimp burrito. They’re not a lot of places you are going to get a sriracha pork burrito. It’s our offerings that are so unique, that brings customers back.”
Customer service is also a focus.
“We’re really big on trying to hire great personalities,” Altero says. “One of the biggest components of our concept that people really seem to be excited about is the fact that our people talk to you. Not just, ‘What can I get you?’ but, ‘How’s your day?’ ‘Where are you coming from?’ ‘I haven’t seen you in two weeks.’”
To augment its growth into Philadelphia and throughout the Tri-State area, Bubbakoo’s is seeking qualified, passionate and hungry for success franchise partners. Including a franchise fee of $30,000, the initial investment to open a 1,700-2,000 square foot restaurant starts at $161,000.
“We want people that are excited about getting out into the community and being a part of the community and giving back,” Altero says. “Ideally, we always want to grow faster, but we also believe that slow and steady wins the race. We want to make sure it’s done right.”