Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Trouble with Burritos...

They are out there…and we are about to be taken over-overrun in fact. I’m not talking about aliens…I’m talking about burrito joints. Let’s take a brief break from Deli December and talk about the proliferation of burrito joints. I am puzzled why over the past 3 years these places seem to be popping up with more frequency than “Tribbles”. The burrito places are the rabbits of the food chain.

White City Plaza in Shrewsbury is a good place to start. Essentially, you can stand in the center island on Route 9 and see Chipotle, Q-Doba and Moe’s, all of which make their money from the now-ubiquitous burrito. Throw in a Boloco and Baja Fresh, and it’s the Holy Quintet of burritos…

As I have written in the past, in the Metrowest, within a quarter mile of each other, Chipotle and Boloco battle for wrapped tortilla supremacy. I now lean towards Chipotle because I think the fewer number of menu items the fewer opportunities for screw-ups. But despite my preferences, I wonder every time I pass on of these places…why? Why now, why here? Have we learned nothing from Dr. Atkins and reducing our consumption of “white” carbs? How healthy is a flour tortilla stuffed with rice and beans and some meat? Despite containing a full “recommended daily allowance” of carbohydrates, it hasn’t stopped people consuming these football-sized meals. Moe’s features the “Homewrecker” a/k/a the “Toiletwrecker”. Even with such an appetizing name, people keep coming back for more.

In the future, I’ll be reviewing these in more depth. But someone please, share with me the marketing strategy that makes the Metro-Boston area so primed for burritos.


Bolopep said...

Hi there,

i have a few thoughts on this topic... where do i begin? ;)

Seriously, happy to share an insider's view if of interest.

And to be clear about a point you made... you are right that having more option means we're more likely to screw up (at Boloco)... it's one of our biggest concerns always and where we focus a ton of energy and training. The reason its important is that people these days are constantly asking for more variety; variety in taste, in portion size, in nutrition options, and more. Those are the things that have kept us ticking for the last 12+ years. As for the Mexican-focused group (we're 16% mexican, 84% "other"), they'll have a lot to say as well, i assure you.

Finally, thanks for including us in your blog. We really do appreciate it, and hope that one day we'll master the choices we offer so that you choose us more often than not.

Here's to a great 2010

John Pepper
CEO & Co-Founder

Eric Weinstein said...

John: Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

I have always given Boloco "props" for their high level of customer service, and you and I have had this exact discussion about how an expansive menu often leads to more mistakes, but you guys address them promptly.

Perhaps in the spring, when I review all the burrito places I can fit my mouth around, you and I can connect.


Anonymous said...

Boloco is head and shoulders better than Chipotle Grill. First of all Boloco offers a whole wheat tortilla. When asked at Chipotle why they do not offer whole wheat, their attitude was not appreciated by an answer of "we have not found a company to provide us with one that wouldmeet our standards. What a load of whooey! I found their small menu uninteresting and deceptive. Of the 3 meet choices 2 were terribly spicy with out much explanation. Did not thrill my kids.
The customer service at Boloco is fantastic. If there is ever an issue with our food it is always graciously fixed with out attitude. The people that work there are professional and friendly. Also if you want fantastic Mexican food try Taqueria La Tapatia in Marlboro.