Freebirds World Burrito has signed its first franchise agreement, with plans to bring 27 of the fast-casual restaurants to the Midwest.
Freebirds has grown to 67 corporate-owned locations in California, Texas and Oklahoma since it was acquired by Emeryville, Calif.-based Tavistock Restaurants in 2007, when the chain had only 19 units. Last year, the company said it planned to franchise the concept to speed national growth.
The first franchise agreement is with FB Midwest Development LLC, which holds exclusive rights to territory that includes Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, excluding certain metropolitan markets, like St. Louis.
FB Midwest partners include Daniel Harf, who for seven years worked with Tavistock as chief concept officer for Freebirds, and who has also previously served as vice president of operations for Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood.
Kansas City attorney Richard Katz, who works with real estate developers throughout the region, joins Harf in the Freebirds franchise operation, along with digital entrepreneur Bryce Katz, who founded iBright Studios, which develops smartphone apps.
The first of the 27 Freebirds units the franchise group is planning is currently under construction in Mission, Kan.
Over the next six months, FB Midwest is scheduled to open several Kansas City locations, and will then develop locations in Lawrence and Wichita, Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; and Columbia, Mo.
Freebirds’ president Jim Mizes said the company is seeking franchise operators willing to own specific regions to open multiple locations.
“The agreement with FB Midwest Development is just the first of many as we seek area developers who have the operational and financial capability of building 10 to 40 restaurants in one or more markets,” he said.
Freebirds is known for its made-from-scratch ingredients and letting guests create customized burritos of various sizes — from the smaller “hybrid” to the “super monster” — as well as bowls, nachos and salads from more than 40 options.
In addition to Freebirds, Tavistock owns and operates 34 upscale restaurant concepts under brands including Abe and Louie’s, Alcatraz Brewing Company, AquaKnox, Atlantic Fish Co., Blackhawk Grille, Café del Rey, California Café, Cañonita, Charley’s, Coach Grill, Joe’s American Bar and Grill, Napa Valley Grille, Sapporo, Timpano Italian Chophouse and ZED451.