TimelineThis timeline spans two decades and we finally added a collapse function — its long. We won’t take offense if you don’t finish. In the meantime, we’ll keep adding memories and lessons that we think a few of you might find interesting. This is optional reading at its very best.
- **All-Natural Meats
- **T-shirts and Uniforms made of organic cotton
- **Comprehensive Recycling Program (with goal to be composting by end of 2008)
- **Replaces all Styrofoam Cups with Corn-based Cups
Restaurant #17 opens at Copley Square. Free Burrito Day in early February draws lines down to Clarendon Street, and in the end over 3,000 brave souls wait up to 45 minutes for freebie. A group of 2nd Years at the Tuck School of Business publish a paper on the magic powers of the word “free” trying to explain why so many customers are willing to accept the equivalent of less than minimum hourly wage for a pound of rice and beans (ok, and some other goodies) wrapped up in a simple tortilla.
Boloco celebrates it’s 14th b-day with 14 Days of Inspired Specials. After more than a decade of serving darn good guac, we decided it was time to step it up. If we weren’t making it fresh with our own hands every single day, then we couldn’t really stand behind it. We took matters into our own hands (literally) and we now make guacamole 100% from scratch. Our NEW inspired blend is made with avocado, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt.
Boloco finally gives up the fight to be different, unique and inspired. On April 1 it announces a name change to Chipdoba – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – literally. As always, we fooled too many people on this special day and endured the insults and thrown stones of hundreds.
After agreeing to donate 200 burritos to the City towards a serious celebration of the city’s biking accomplishments, our friends at the Inspectional Services Department at 1010 Mass Ave (also “the City”) called one of our restaurants less than an hour before the announcement and demanded that a permit be produced or our Federal Street location would be shut down. After a tense 15 minutes of debate (that’s as PC as we can put it), head chef Jason Hutchinson stripped his chef’s coat off and scrambled to 1010 and back to City Hall Plaza in the nick of time. Burritos were served, people were happy, but it was time for a business to speak up… in less than 140 characters, of course. “How a business can thank businesses for supporting its civic efforts with rudeness, threats, and disrespect has us reeling right now” said the tweet. And the Facebook contest that followed soon after asked for people (with the incentive of a magic free burrito) to show the City how to properly say thank you by publicly thanking those they love, owe, cherish. And thank they did!
To make a very long and unnecessarily pathetic story short, the story hit the front page of the Boston Globe 36 hours later. The Globe staff editorial published a piece 72 hours after that entitled “At his own peril, burrito maker takes on the Big Enchilada” and called for an apology by the Mayor on behalf of the City. While no apology was ever issued, we continue to happily donate burritos to great causes, including biking events at City Hall Plaza. And for the record… we always get our permits.
We’re straight shooters. We call it like it is. And despite the fact that we get compared to every Mexican joint this side of the Mississippi, we are not, never have been, and never will be Mexican (except for that hot second on April Fool’s Day when we changed our name to Chipdoba).
But what about the Classic Burrito, you ask? OK, it’s true that about 18% of what boloco offers is Mexican-inspired, and while everything wrapped in a tortilla goes in the “kinda Mexican” category, boloco is globally inspired. Trendy sounding? Yep, we know… we’ve heard that before. But we don’t know any better way to put it.
All that being said, when Cinco de Mayo rolls around every year, should we take cover and wish the day away for fear we’ll be called out as Mexican impostors?
The answer is HECK NO. In fact, we celebrated by putting our friend, the Yucatan Habanero, on a pedestal. This burrito is grounded in Mexican culinary tradition…with tangy pickled onions, black beans, sour cream, boloco rice, and of course, our fiery hot habanero salsa (which you can add to any burrito we offer, by the way).
As the weather turned to warm, we introduced to the world (or, at least New England) two new inspired flavors:
The Spicy BLT and Korean BBQ.
We’d been told by a few burrito-eating connoisseurs that the Korean BBQ packs a serious punch, and the Spicy BLT is an awesome twist on a classic with its smokey chipotle mayo. These friends stuck around for a few months, and flags were raised at half mast when these were taken off the menu in November 2011.
The first twitter firing ever takes place. A “twiring” some called it. But for the record, nobody was actually fired.
After some heavy research (on important stuff like which organic chocolate milk tastes better) and lots of feedback (from the experts, hungry kids), we finally developed a delicious kids menu! It’s filled with all kinds of mini goodness that kids are sure to enjoy (like cookies and strawberry shakes) and parents, too (like organic applesauce from Vermont or steamed broccoli). And for good measure, we include a little pack of crayons for kids to color their Sean Boyce-designed kids meal box.
Our second location on Congress Street in Boston, Boloco Location #18, opens at Atlantic Wharf in Boston in December, next to Jody Adam’s new but already legendary Trade as well as some other fine neighbors. With four self-service kiosks and two traditional cash registers, Atlantic Wharf is made to serve incredible food personally and faster than ever. After a few bumps and stumbles in the early weeks and a ton of free burritos given out as apologies, the team seemed to find its footing.
That is, until one of our team members decided to steal a customer’s wallet in plain view of our new and super sleuth cameras. Yeah, that sucked. But we called the cops. Got the wallet back. And now the team really is on solid footing, and you can take your hand off your wallet. Promise.
We sign two leases in Washington, DC. Nation’s Capital here we come … summer 2012. We remind ourselves as we agree to most staggering rents ever… there was no recession in DC. There was no recession in DC. There was no recession in DC.
In July, we set a personal record and raised $55,000 for the Prouty through nearly 30 Team Boloco members. The Prouty is an annual bike event in Hanover, NH where riders choose 35, 50, or 100 miles and raise money for cancer research through the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital.
Also in July, we spread our wings and opened our first restaurant outside of our New England roots in Bethesda, MD. We moved in next to some pretty awesome neighbors, and we were so excited to bring globally inspired burritos to the Mid-Atlantic for the first time. But it didn’t take long for Boston transplants to find us… our first day of business (which was of course a Free Burrito Day), we met tons of former Bostonians that knew boloco from back home! It was great to reconnect with old friends – even 500 miles from home base.
In August our ordering app finally made its Android debut. (Sorry BlackBerry users…) With 10% off every order, shorter wait times, and boloco card integration – we were pretty stoked about all of the things guests could do on our app. As the year wore on, however, less than 3% of sales came from the iPhone and Droid app combined… we were like WTF, right? In 2013, we’re going to get you all using this seamless tool. It makes too much sense not to.
In September, we took on another suburban location and opened in Wellesley, MA – our 20th location! (This wasn’t our first suburban rodeo… we opened Natick, MA back in 2007). It was a TOUGH opening. In fact, we made way too many mistakes. Our CEO even formally published an apology letter to all of our Wellesley guests. But, we put all hands on deck, worked together, gave away lots of free burritos, and got Wellesley back on track. Nobody ever said that opening new restaurants was easy, regardless of how many times you’ve done it!
In November, we launched two pretty sweet video series. The first was called “Project Globally Inspired”. Starting with the Buffalo burrito, we set out to explore the origins of all of our globally inspired menu items – traveling to their roots and exploring how these creations came to be. Buffalo, NY isn’t exactly “global”, but that’s how we got our feet wet.
The second video series is currently called “CIA”… or Culinary Investigation Assignment. Yes, it needs a cooler name. In CIA, we track down and expose the origins of our ingredients… for better (hopefully) or for worse (we hope not). So far we’ve visited Iowa to learn about the non-GMO corn used in our La Nina Tortilla Chips and Uruguay – a country that’s closer to the South Pole than the US East Coast –to meet the farmers who raise the grass-fed cattle that provide us with the highest quality beef in the faster food business. You have to watch this video.
Just as December rolled in, we opened our first “actual” DC restaurant at 19th & L. Never before have we seen a line as long as this one for free burrito day. The word “free” is magic everywhere.
Since we were feeling adventurous, we also decided to take it a step further with what we call CIA: Culinary Investigation Assigment. People are starting to care more and more about where their food comes from – and for good reason! With the rise of agribusiness, somehow growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides have found their way into our food supply. Well… not at Boloco. We wanted to track down where our ingredients come from, investigate the integrity behind them, and interview our suppliers to learn more about the quality of our ingredients as well. We kicked it off by traveling out West to our corn supplier in Illinois, and made plans to travel everywhere from our backyard in MA all the way to Uruguay to track down our steak. Check out our YouTube channel and follow us around as we travel around for our CIA Missions.
The Boston Marathon has always been an event that we’ve held close to our hearts here at Boloco. We’ve been a part of this city for 16 years, opening our first restaurant here, and will always call Boston home. The tragic events of 2013’s Boston Marathon marked a difficult time for our team members, their families, our local communities, and our country. We did everything we could to donate food to those in need, contribute to the Marathon “One Fund”, and come together as a family during this difficult time. We’ll always be there for our city and are proud to be and forever remain Boston Strong.
The world’s first unverified burrito Drive-Thru opened as part of our 22nd location in April in Warwick, Rhode Island – that’s nearby Providence (although in Rhode Island, everything is near Providence). Because it was the world’s first burrito Drive-Thru, it’s also the world’s fastest burrito drive-thru with the world’s greatest drive-thru customer service. It’s also the world’s most accurate burrito drive-thru. It pretty much is the best at everything as far as burrito drive-thrus go…
In May, we took the Airstream and headed on a road-trip from our home in Boston, MA down to our new(ish) restaurant in Washington, DC as we followed the Ride on Washington cyclists. This incredible team, led by Tim Johnson, rides all 400+ miles over the course of five days. We celebrated the efforts of the cyclists in the Nation’s capital with burritos (duh) at Boloco 19th Street.
Speaking of airstreams… we got a spiffy new one! We can’t wait to drive our brand new, life-sized burrito mobile up and down the East Coast. If there’s a Boloco near you, chances are you’ll being seeing our new burrito on wheels riding around your neighborhood sometime soon.