On Durham Drive in the heart of Houston’s Durham Park neighborhood, stands an old wood paneled building with a covered patio and tin roof overhang. There’s a simple spirit to it. Today, it’s gone through some remodeling and upgrades, but atop it all still hangs an iconic Überrito sign. For nearly a decade, this inventive Überrito location has known that when it comes to flavor - fresh, quality ingredients are the building blocks of a great meal. Since day one, this iconic Überrito location has been serving up above-and-beyond authentic Mexican favorites – ultimate fresh-made burritos, tacos, bowls, salads, and nachos to guests of all ages who consider Überrito their quintessential and authentic fast casual Mexican spot.
From the time Überrito Fresh Mex was launched in 2014, the brand has been engrained in the tradition of quality, variety, and experience. Today, that set of core values still determines the restaurant concept’s direction and has kept the brand on solid footing, even during the height of the pandemic, without sacrificing its from-scratch cooking roots.
“Almost everyone can relate to a freshly made burrito or taco because people are driven by an emotional connection to authentic Mexican food – it’s very strong and powerful,” says Pete Pascuzzi, CEO of MRI Heritage Brands, Inc. “We’ve remained true to who we are as a brand since day one, but as the restaurant industry evolves, we’re doing the same – both with our menu and now with our franchise offering. While Houstonians have known and loved us for many years, we’re excited to introduce our fresh-is-first Überrito approach to more cities and neighborhoods across the Lone Star State and the country.”
Überrito’s story began nearly a decade ago. Over the years the Überrito brand has grown, introducing new products while refining its scratch-cooking operations and recently added beer, wine, and margaritas to its menu mix to become even more relevant to today’s evolving customer. The investment paid off – 2021 sales trends are on track to hit $1.5 million.
Today, Überrito has several locations spread across greater Houston and its revamped model, upgraded training and support, state-of-the-art technology and new operational efficiencies are credited for igniting the brand’s surge into franchise development.
“Our longstanding history of operating multiple restaurant brands across several states provided us with the runway and experience to position Überrito for franchising success,” says Pascuzzi. “There was a fundamental shift happening in consumer dining habits prior to 2020, which the pandemic accelerated. Überrito is a fresh, fast and friendly environment that has adapted to today’s guest, which will allow our franchise partners to take full advantage of dine-in, take-out, delivery, drive-thru, and pick-up lane options.”
A reduced footprint and hyper-efficient operations are enabling Überrito to enter new territories that were previously untouched. Furthermore, smaller, and more proficient restaurants lower the barrier to entry into ownership yet still give new franchisees the experience, purchasing power, training and support that Überrito affords. Through the end of 2021, the brand is targeting four to six new franchise agreements and several new openings.
“That’s part of the magic of our growth potential – we’re very realistic about how fast we want to grow, and we are going to make sure we’re as much of a fit for our franchisees as they are for us,” says Pascuzzi. “Nearly 30 years of restaurant operations experience and proven success have allowed us to be very strategic about how and with whom we want to grow. Other brands don’t have that luxury.”
Backed by a strong culture and a management team determined to knit together a new story that depends less on old stereotypes and antiquated business models and more on a new golden era of fast casual success that showcases restaurant profitability and efficient operations, Überrito is looking for franchisees that can emulate those same values.
“At every level of the company, our people choose to stay in it. We have people in our headquarters running system-wide operations that began their careers years ago by working shifts in our kitchens. That has everything to do with the fact that Überrito is a great place to work and our people are happy – something this simple can have an enormous impact on your growth,” Pascuzzi says.
With its strategic 2021 growth plan, Überrito is laying out opportunities in areas with huge development potential such as South and Central Texas, Colorado, North and Central Florida, and Georgia to name a few.
“As we move forward, it will be critically important that we continue to lay out our foundation for development over the next few years – this means increasing our awareness for franchise growth as a means for investment. While we are well known throughout Houston, there are plenty of people that have yet to be introduced to Überrito and our authentic, from scratch, fast casual Mexican centered around community,” Pascuzzi says. “With the help of our growing franchisee base, our strong culture and our commitment to craftsmanship, straight talk and exceptional food that builds on classic styles and new flavors, we know the future is bright for our brand.”