On Friday the fast casual, beach-themed burrito restaurant Go Burrito announced the expansion of the franchise into a new market: Florida. The Salisbury, North Carolina-based brand will open four franchised stores throughout the coastal state during the next two years, starting in Ocala, Florida. The fast casual burrito restaurant hopes to replicate its loyal Salisbury customers close to the ocean.
The multi-unit agreement opens the brand to a fitting market. “We have a popular concept with extremely loyal customers, and we have found the perfect fit for our next expansion,” said Mikey Wetzel, owner of the parent, franchising company, Go Ventures, Inc. “Our restaurant combines burritos and beer with the beach, so Florida is a natural fit,” added Wetzel. The Salisbury store will celebrate its fifth anniversary in February of 2018 and still maintains the same chill coastal vibe.
A California native, Wetzel aimed to bring his roots to his new home of Salisbury when he relocated. The former software developer turned entrepreneur wanted to create a laid-back atmosphere where people can have a refreshing experience—a “burrito hangout.”
“Everyone loves the beach, and we provide a place that feels like you’re on vacation. We share fresh, high-quality burritos that are prepared in front of our customers for a reasonable price.”
The never boring, always refreshing restaurant and bar attracts customers who visit multiple times each week to enjoy the place where friends and burritos hang out, and is especially popular with millennials.
To meet the challenge of extending the brand into a new market, Wetzel feels he has a competitive edge in his Florida franchisee, Brad Harper. Harper is a local entrepreneur with decades of restaurant experience, and has been a successful, multi-unit franchise owner and operator for over 17 years. “An experienced operator like Brad will allow us to grow the brand at the pace I want to. I consider this a huge win to have Brad help us grow quickly and accelerate our franchising efforts into a larger, national brand,” adds Wetzel. “I wanted to bring in the best person for our brand, not just the restaurants, and Brad is definitely that person.”
Harper is equally excited to bring Go Burrito to Florida. “There are many considerations when it comes to investing in a franchise, but the two leading factors I have come to rely on are customer passion for the food and the passion of the franchisor,” says Harper. “The first time I walked into Go Burrito, I was impressed by the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant and the great burritos. But, when it comes down to it, I also believe in Mikey and his vision for the brand.”
The Florida locations are still being considered, but early indications point to Ocala, a second location in Marion County, Lake City, and Gainesville. Wetzel and Harper both want to ignite the Go Burrito brand in Florida with an investment in marketing, but Harper is adamant that “once someone tastes the freshness and the creativity of our food, and get to experience the refreshing nature of the restaurant, we won’t have to market to that person again.”
Wetzel also has his eye on expansion in other markets, with a signed franchisee already scouting locations in Johnson City, Tennessee, and numerous potential franchisees considering Georgia, North Carolina, and beach towns across the Southeast. “We constantly seek input from our loyal customers and our expansion plan is no different,” said Wetzel. The Salisbury store recently polled customers on social media and received over 300 responses about where customers believe future Go Burritos will be a major hit. “Wherever we go next, we will be wearing sandals and sunglasses and serving delicious burritos along the way.”