Saturday, January 16, 2010

The First Boloco Is Moving

By Alan Franciose

People walking along Massachusetts Avenue craving a burrito from Boloco will soon have to travel a little farther to settle their cravings.

The site of the first Boloco restaurant at 137 Massachusetts Ave. will be abandoned in favor of a newer, larger location around the corner on Boylston Street. The move is tentatively planned for some time in January, depending on how long construction at the Boylston location takes.

Boloco opened its first restaurant in February 1997 on Massachusetts Avenue, only it wasn't yet called Boloco. Its original name was Under Wraps, but a trademark claim by the Marriott hotel chain forced a name change. Changing to simply The Wrap, the local burrito store began to grow, expanding to several areas in Boston and Cambridge.

In 2005, the burrito chain changed its name again, this time becoming Boloco, for which it won The Improper Bostonian's award for "Stupidest Name Change." The Boloco name is based on Boston Local Company.

Twelve years after opening its first store’s doors, the chain has grown to 16 locations. Its newest location won't be the 17th restaurant in the chain, but rather a successor to the first location.

Michael Harder, president and chief operating officer of the Brighton-based Stellar Restaurant Group, which owns Boloco, said the decision was made to move the restaurant because its current Massachusetts Avenue location didn't represent the brand the way the flagship location should.

The Massachusetts Avenue location has seating for only 18 guests at a time. The new Boylston Street location has seating for up to 80.

"It becomes much more comfortable for the guests," Harder said. "It is better representative of the brand."

Not only is the new restaurant site bigger than the old one, but it has also has been renovated. In a collaborative effort between the landlords who own the real estate on Boylston and city itself, new patios and sidewalks have been added to the location. Harder said it makes the new location a destination area, even comparing it to places on Boylston Street such as The Mandarin Hotel.

Despite the history of the brand at the Massachusetts Avenue location, there was no hesitation when it came to the decision to move, according to Harder. No customers or employees made a case for keeping the store in its traditional home.

Alan Franciose is an undergraduate student at the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

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