Traveling Austinites with a taste for “Monster” burritos can rejoice as Freebirds World Burritos will be opening twenty more locations in Texas by the end of next year. The expansion of the Austin-based (although it was founded in Santa Barbara, CA) Mexican food chain will add in between 1,000 to 1,500 jobs to the state, the company stated in a press release.
While economic theory dictates that a slugging economy is not the most opportune time for expansion, particularly in the restaurant industry, demand is what's behind the new stores, according to Bryan Lockwood, president of Emeryville, CA-based Tavistock Restaurant Group, the company that runs Freebirds.
"There are legions of fanatics that write us and ask for more Freebirds and we are excited to bring it to many more communities throughout Texas" said Lockwood.
Freebirds currently operates 40 locations in the state and employs a little over 2,500 people. The privately-held company’s first Texas location opened in 1990 in College Station.
Freebirds will be opening new stores in current cities as well as opening locations in Baytown, League City, and Padadena. The brand’s biggest competitors are national powerhouses Moe’s Mexican Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., and Jack In the Box Inc. owned Qdoba Restaurant Corportation. Both Freebirds and Chipotle currently own and operate all of their locations.
Freebirds was named after the Lynyrd Skynyrd rock staple of the same name, and the company tries to implement Rock n’ Roll style into the restaurants with lyrics painted on the walls and rollicking music playing.
Restaurant patron Chris Runyon was more impressed with the food than the ambiance: “I guess it’s got more of an attitude than Qdoba, but I come for the burritos.”