Boloco

Globally Inspired Burritos

Timeline

This 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.

1986

Gregg Harris and John Pepper meet in their hometown, Cincinnati, OH. Gregg is the dog walker for a friend of John’s.

1993

Adam Liebman and Gregg Harris meet while students at Boston University. Gregg is friends with Adam’s brother but not with Adam.
1995
Gregg Harris and John Pepper meet again while living in San Francisco. They are both fans of the Mission District Taqueria scene and the early Wrap concepts popping up throughout the city and talk about how the rest of the country needs such things. Gregg gives Pepper the book “How to Open a Restaurant.” (Pepper never reads it) Gregg and Adam reunite in San Francisco and both quit their jobs to work at burrito shops (they are now friends). They meet Jason Hutchinson at one of those joints – night after night the trio whisper over the grill about their future dreams back East. Gregg and Adam decide that while Jason’s culinary skills are welcome, his music taste is not. Pepper heads back to New England to get his MBA at Tuck. Early on, he befriends those in his class from the Bay Area so that he can talk endlessly about the country’s desperate need for more burritos and wraps.

1996

Gregg, Adam, and Jason move back to Boston determined to open an Inspired Burrito (aka Wrap) shop. Landlords don’t take them seriously. The search is endless for a first location. Pepper works on Wall Street for the summer. Hates it (and is still trying to figure out what “it” is). Pepper and Gregg correspond regularly during Pepper’s 2nd year at Tuck, which he dedicates in large part to studying the food and beverage business and writing the first business plan as part of his Entrepreneurship Class. Under Wraps, Inc. is formed. Adam, Gregg, and Pepper officially join forces. Jason is the company’s head chef. The lease at Mass Ave across from the Berklee College of Music is signed in November and construction begins.

1997

On February 24, the first Under Wraps opens at 137 Massachusetts Avenue (#1) across from the Berklee College of Music. The idea is simple: make the best Traditional Mexican Burrito possible, and then use that same tortilla to add a limited number of other unexpected, bold and addictive flavors that give more people a reason to visit. Bring in the potential frozen beverage fad known as smoothies to bolster the slower day parts and add to the “freshness” perception. No chance of anything other than a homerun. (200 people visit the first day versus our expected 500 – work to be done) The partners receive a “cease and desist” letter from Marriott saying that they own the trademark to the name Under Wraps. A customer contest takes place for a new name. “The Wrap” wins. Other wrap competitors open in Boston, including Wrap Culture and Fresh City Wraps. Talks with the owner of Wrap Culture lead to an acquisition of its two locations. Talks with the owners of Fresh City lead nowhere special. The Wrap location total = 1

1998

Under Wraps and Wrap Culture are all converted to The Wrap. Harvard Square (#2) and Cleveland Circle (#3)are now open. With ever expanding waist lines being blamed on fast food, and despite the negative effect on the profitability of our business, the Regular Size burrito is introduced in addition to the original size (Large). The smaller size has outsold the larger size ever since. Health insurance made available to all full-time and most hourly employees. Hires first experienced restaurant professional as Director of Operations. Wins “Boston’s Best Wraps” by the Improper Bostonian. Advertises in Improper Bostonian. The Wrap location total = 3

1999

Introduces matching Simple IRA plan for all full-time and most part-time employees. The Buffalo Chicken is first introduced as a Special, eventually to become a cult favorite and permanent menu item. A group of customers lobby for the name Tatanka, but when they imitate Kevin Costner with fingers in the air from Dances with Wolves, we stick with the safety name. Using paid architects for the first time, Water Street (#4) location opens in Boston’s financial district. With lines out the door like never before experienced, The Wrap eliminates pennies by making sure that after tax prices end with a “5″ or a “0″. Fishing for pennies costs an extra 2-3 seconds and for the first time every second really did count. Able to handle over 150 transactions per hour (would eventually double that). Breakfast menu is introduced, including the Truckstop Special. Was supposed to be called the Flatbed Special #2 Burrito (of Harry’s Truckstop on I-89 fame, but the founders chickened out. Wins “Boston’s Best Wraps” by the Improper Bostonian for the 2nd year in a row. Advertises with Improper Bostonian for the 2nd year in a row. English Lessons begin and are taught in-house to Spanish-speaking employees. Gregg Harris leaves the business to pursue his MBA at Columbia. The Wrap location total = 4

2000

The Wrap and Jera’s Juice join forces. Each with 4 locations, the idea was to convert the 4 Jera’s locations that only served juices and smoothies (“Best of Boston”, Boston Magazine, 1998) to “The Wrap featuring Jera’s Juice”. Unfortunately, 3 of the 4 Jera’s Juice locations are closed by the end of the year because a) of the significant and unstoppable losses at these stores, and b) space and lease constraints did not allow the full Wrap menu to be incorporated. The Jera’s Juice founders (2) leave the company to pursue other interests. Newbury Street (#5) opens. Wins “Boston’s Best Wraps” by the Improper Bostonian for the 3rd year in a row. Advertises with Improper Bostonian for the 3rd year in a row. Northeastern University (#6) opens. A moratorium on all new restaurants is put on place until the company can prove that current locations can all be profitable. Company offices are moved to the “Dungeon”… a one-window basement space of a building on Boylston with access only through the alley. The Wrap location total = 6 Jera’s Juice location total = 1

2001

Sales grow in all restaurants. All restaurants are profitable. Berlitz is hired to teach English and Spanish to all employees to improve internal communications and to help immigrants for whom English is a second language take on greater responsibility. The Summer Burrito is first introduced as a Special, eventually to become a customer favorite and permanent menu item. Introduces first Wrap Gift and Loyalty Card the same month as Starbucks introduces theirs (except we actually rewarded people when they use it) Does not advertise with Improper Bostonian. Does not win “Boston’s Best Wraps” by Improper Bostonian. The Wrap location total = 6 Jera’s Juice location total = 1

2002

Sales grow in all restaurants. All restaurants profitable. Thinking about growth again. Fleet Bank agrees to lend enough money to open 3 restaurants. The Wrap location total = 6 Jera’s Juice location total = 1

2003

Children’s Hospital (#7) location opens. Pearl Street (#8) location opens in Boston’s financial district. Invests in B.Good, a start-up healthier burger concept in which Pepper is a co-founder. All employees are eligible for performance-based bonus plans. The last Jera’s Juice is closed at the end of its lease. After 5 years of letter writing, fortunate circumstances (as opposed to the content of the letters) allow Pepper to meet with Howard Schultz (Starbucks) in Seattle. It is there that Pepper poses to the coffee magnate the question as to whether The Wrap is a name that can endure. Schultz’s initial response is that it’s hip and catchy, but agrees to ask some colleagues what they think. After over an hour of dropping in at various Starbucks departments and speaking to over a dozen highly caffeinated employees, and peppering them with questions about wraps vs. burritos, the two corporate titans emerged from the roasting support center at which time Pepper asked “do you see the problem now?” Schultz’s short response: “I do”. (monthly letters to Seattle since this infamous meeting have yet to receive a response). The Wrap location total = 8

2004

Dartmouth College (#9) location opens in Hanover, NH. Federal Street (#10) location opens in Boston’s financial district. B.Good opens its first location at 131 Dartmouth Street. The Cajun Wrap is re-positioned as the Cajun Burrito. No changes to the ingredients were made except for the name, and sales doubled nearly immediately. Founders continue to question the name “The Wrap”. The Wrap location total = 10

2005

Mike Harder joins as President and COO. With over 25 years in the business, he makes drastic improvements to operations immediately. Referring to them as “low hanging fruit”, he “insults” the founders who never even knew such “fruit” existed. Customer lines accelerate (from 150/hour to over 250/hour), food becomes fresher than ever, safety and customer service practices reach new levels. Customers seem to notice. Lines grow, sales increase. Brand Name Analysis determines 6 potential names to compare The Wrap against. Concerns have grown about the evolving meaning of the word “wrap” to things such as cold deli meats, pita bread, sprouts, and even convenience store items – things that The Wrap had never been associated with. In markets outside of Boston, and even in Boston itself, The Wrap name fares poorly in this analysis (even as compared to the control name “mammoth” which was intended to be the loser). All 10 restaurants are converted from “The Wrap” to “Boloco”. Inspired Burritos is the new tag line intended to better describe the menu offering. Not one item on the menu, in fact, was changed in the rebranding process. Sabbatical benefit (4 weeks) is introduced for those employees who work for the company for more than 10 years. Boloco location total = 10

2006

Dental Insuranceis offered for the first time.The Consumerist.com proclaims “This CEO Sucks Less” based on Boloco’s long-standing determination to listen to all feedback and Pepper’s commitment to respond to customers personally.   Tufts University (#11) location opens. Wins “Boston’s Best” award from the Improper Bostonian for “Stupidest Name Change”. In-store signs retaliate by quoting from the mid-80′s movie Johnny Dangerously “My mother called me stupid once… once!”. Did not advertise with Improper Bostonian. Wins “Best of Boston” from Boston Magazine for Best Neighborhood Takeout. Boloco location total = 11

2007

Commits $15,000 to a local non-profit, Community Servings and institutes a speaker series for management called Delivering Leadership where local leaders come to speak to Boloco managers and in return a donation is made to Community Servings. Boloco also volunteers in Community Servings kitchens once per month and dedicates portions of “Late November” Burrito sales and President’s Day sales to CS. After 39 presentations over a six month period, raises expansion capital from Winona Capital for expansion and growth. Commits $5,000 to the Prouty event supporting the Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Hanover, NH. Wins “Best of Boston” from Boston Magazine for Best Neighborhood Takeout. Naturally-raised Carnitas is re-introduced as a permanent menu item after having been a successful special in years past. Steak is converted to a naturally-raised product as well. Naturally-raised at Boloco is defined as vegetarian fed and no added antibiotics or growth hormones. Boston Red Sox win 2nd World Series in 4 years!! Somerville (187 Elm in Somerville) (#12) location opens. Natick (#13) location opens. Congress Street (#14) location opens. Water Street #4, a few hundred feet away, becomes Boloco Catering Center. Boloco location total = 13 (not including Catering Center)

2008

First fast-casual chain in New England to be Certified Greenby the Green Restaurant Association. Steps taken to achieve certification:
  • **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
  Chicken is converted to a naturally-raised product, signifying the successful conversion of all meats at Boloco to naturally-raised. Increases Commitment to $20,000 to Community Servings. Sean Boyce officially becomes the local artist for all New England Boloco restaurants. His oil paintings depict the unique and interesting aspects of the local area near each of our restaurants while conveying a mood that fits with the Boloco personality. Wins first-ever Blind Taste Test conducted by the Boston Globe – all panelists self-proclaimed devotees of local taqueria Anna’s Taqueria. Opens first restaurant in the great state of Vermont! Church Street, Burlington, VT (#14) opens. Wins Best of Boston 2008 for best location within a chain… unfortunately the lucky location (187 Elm Street in Somerville) closes its doors forever (our first and only in 12 years) the very same day the award is announced. The closing party included champagne served in our Boloco Corn cups. We have asked Boston Magazine not to select us for other awards in the future. Switches all plastic bowls to 100% compostable bowls derived from bamboo. Cited by “Boston Globe” (12/3/08) as one of the “Greenest of Them All”. “All of Boloco’s meat comes from animals that have been treated humanely, fed a vegetarian diet, and kept free of hormones and antibiotics… uses highly renewable bamboo, paints low in or without volatile organic compounds, and PaperStone, a material with the hardness of concrete but made from recycled paper and an earth-friendly resin. Sinks feature water-restriction valves, and compact fluorescents light new stores… working with manufacturers on other lighting solutions. New stores get Energy Star refrigeration and heating systems where possible… eliminated Styrofoam; instead of plastic, the restaurants use cups made from corn and bowls made from bamboo fiber… trying to find an affordable alternative to plastic flatware, which would enable (composting).” Selected #28 in Fast Casual Magazine’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers. Fort Eddy Road in Concord, NH (#14) opens. Boloco on the Boston Commons (#15) opens (12/12/08) – also birthplace of Edgar Allen Poe. Boloco location total = 15

2009

The Boloco Airstream is launched in front of a crowd of 50,000 at the Mardi Gras parade in Burlington, VT. 400 Original Boloco pong balls were lost during the parade which led to a reward offer of 2 burritos for every pong ball returned. The Boloco Airstream did not win the float beauty contest… we’ll be back. John Pepper announces to the press he is running for Mayor of Boston at the #16 School Street ribbon-cutting ceremony. The joke is not appreciated by our friend Mayor Menino who is there to support the opening and campaigning for reelection in November. Within a month of celebrating his presence on this earth for half a century, Mike Harder becomes poster child for chain restaurants due to his passion for all things green. His concern for the inevitable increased number of sales calls and emails trumped any temptation to let his new found fame to go to his head. Separately, Fast Casual magazine cites Boloco as one of the “leaders of the pack” in commitment to the environment. Boloco location total = 16

2010

Boloco’s original restaurant on Mass Ave is relocated to 1080 Boylston Street. Surrounded by musical talent, local Berklee School of Music students create The Boloco Song. Change our menu board layout based on guest feedback thanks to group of Boloco lovers (and haters) gathered by the venerable BostonTweet. Replace long-standing lime rice with boloco rice. Even rice matters, and this rice rocks. Encourage guests to “brave the (snow)storm” and work together to earn a burrito giveaway bonanza (AKA Free Burrito Day). After a few mathematical errors and a 2000-style recount, we finally calculated that 6,257 guests had visited during this ferocious winter storm and Free Burrito Day was formally earned. Celebrate our 13th birthday, 2/24, with a series of Free Burrito Days. Thousands of mouths are fed and $10,408.95 is raised for local charities. Two guests set an official world record for most number of trips through line for free food – 7 times! April Fools! Rename ourselves Miniloco and officially introduce the world to a disturblingly small version of our burritos, bowls, smoothies, and shakes, the Mini. As always with April Fools gags, too many guests actually believe the name change and call us stupid (again). In May, Boston is placed under a Boil Water Order. We spring into action and take all steps necessary to ensure guests’ health and safety (and of course create another “bologo”). Thirty boloco team members run the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge. 4,500 burritos are handed out in pouring rain. Team members Jason Clay and Mark Corsillo push a broken-down golf cart filled with hundreds of said burritos for quarter of a mile, a feat greater than the 3.5 mile run. Hailed by the press as one of the greatest marketing capers of all time, boloco offers the FourSquare mayor card. Current reward – Mayor Mondays (a guest and two friends eat for free). Like all rewards, it’s subject to (and will) change. Many steps forward sometimes require a step or two backwards. Switch back to recyclablable bowls from compostable bamboo bowls due to leaking Teriyaki sauce and unavailability of proper sizes. Guests upset by the change (many) will be relieved no later than later this decade, as we continue to search for a solid compostable solution. Fall 2010 sees the inaugural classes of Boloco University, a boloco team member training series focused on educating and empowering our team members with career and life skills within and beyond boloco. Boloco’s Cycling Team participates in the Prouty charity ride in Hanover, NH, for the third year in a row. 26 riders pedal in the 50- and 100-mile rides, raising over $21K for the Norris Cotton Cancer Center (in all, we raise over $75,000 to benefit various charities throughout New England in 2010). Ranked as #3,237 as one of the top 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. Still not really sure what that means, but it’s on a plaque in our office. Forty-nine riders register to ride Team Boloco for the Hub on Wheels Citywide ride. Only 20 show up. We pedal 10, 25, and 50 miles throughout Boston sporting our Official Boloco Team Bike Jerseys. Also: Boloco Block Party and debut of the Boloco Smoothie Bike. Burlington becomes our first restaurant to serve beer. We host a burrito and beer tasting with Magic Hat Brewery to benefit iCouldBe.org. We learn that burritos and beer are a magical pairing. Fall 2010 kicks off with the largest contingency of Boloco Campus Mavens to date. They’re psyched about new shirts, pong balls, free burritos, and repping boloco in their campus community. Halloween: we (temporarily) change our name (again) to Booloco and ask guests to say “trick or treat.” The treat? Surprise Free Burrito Day! We raise $2,926.80 for the Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New England. Another search for “Boston’s Best Burrito” results in the boloco marketing team ambushing the Boston Herald’s “Burrito Boy.” He likes our burritos. A winner has yet to be crowned. Partner with super-cool PeopleMatter to streamline our hiring process. Hear about 400 Emerson students filming Lady Gaga LipDub just around the corner from Boloco HQ. After figuring out what a LipDub actually is, we secure our first product placement in the shoot (still trying to figure out a boloco LipDub). Holidays mean giving. Four stores + more than 40 charities = 2nd Annual 12 Days of Giving. We raise $8,223.00 for local charities at our Burlington, Hanover, Concord, and Tufts restaurants. We anxiously await (and await, and await, and await) the opening of our 17th location at 569 Boylston St. in Boston’s Copley Square. Highlights will include the Winston Flowers Lounge, self-service kiosks, and inspired burritos. Estimated opening – late January 2011.

2011

IPhone app? Yeah, we’ve got one (finally). And it’s pretty dang cool, too. But it’s V1. It will get better. It must get better. Nobody uses it. That’s ok, it’s a start. Nothing was built in a day.

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.

2012

In February, we celebrated our 15th Birthday. And we had to do something big. Go Big or Go Home. We set the ambitious goal to raise $25,000 for our friends at Life is Good Playmakers and hosted a free burrito day at every single one of our restaurants. After serving tens of thousands of free burritos to crazed fans (37,600 to be exact), it’s safe to say that was the very best way ever to celebrate a birthday. We raised $20,712 during the course of the celebration, short of our target, but by year’s end had topped $30,000 in total.

15 Days of free burritos

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.

coming to dc

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.

dc store front

2013

To kick off 2013, we decided to set out on an important mission: Project Globally Inspired. This yearlong YouTube series would take us all around the world to track down the TRUE culinary inspirations behind each of our globally inspired menu items. We kicked it off with a trip to Buffalo, to learn more about the origins of one of our most famous items… The Buffalo of course! Throughout the year, we planned trips from Bangkok to Tokyo, from Memphis to New Orleans – all to research the inspiration behind our menu items and share them YOU!

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.

warwick