Arizona restaurant magnate brings Big Burrito to Colorado Springs

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Renovation to the new Big Burrito location on the southwest corner of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard is under way. Owner Miguel Quintero expects to receive the keys by mid-February and plans to open the restaurant by early March.

Renovation to the new Big Burrito location on the southwest corner of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard is under way. Owner Miguel Quintero expects to receive the keys by mid-February and plans to open the restaurant by early March.

The independent owner of a successful string of Phoenix area restaurants has decided to expand to Colorado Springs.

Miguel Quintero opened his first Big Burrito restaurant in the Phoenix area during 1999.

He expanded the operation to two locations in 2003 and in the years since has opened five more Big Burritos, four in Phoenix and one in Miami, Ariz.

Quintero, president of Big Burrito, Inc., was visiting family in Colorado Springs late in 2009 when he noticed a vacant restaurant at the Southwest corner of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard. He liked the location so much that he inquired about leasing the spot.

Rich Walker of First Properties, Inc. has closed the deal with Quintero’s Phoenix area representative, Jasen LaFon of Crossroad Real Estate, Inc., and Quintero is planning to open the Colorado Springs Big Burrito by mid March.

The location is a former Arby’s restaurant and is currently being renovated to suit Big Burrito.

“We’re doing a redevelopment on that same end of the Austin Bluffs Shopping Center,” Walker said. “We’re talking to a national chicken chain about leasing the far west building.”

Quintero said business has been so good for his restaurants in the Phoenix area that all of his expansions have been funded through profit from existing locations. Not even the current recession, with its high unemployment rates, tight credit and thrifty consumer sentiment has deterred the entrepreneur.

“He thought he could take advantage of depressed rental rates,” LaFon said of Quintero. “And he’ll use family members here to manage the Colorado Springs restaurant. Eventually, he also wants to expand into California.”

At 3,250 square feet, the Colorado Springs Big Burrito will operate according to the quick-serve concept, will be open 24 hours, offer a drive-through and employ eight to 12 people.

Quintero says the carne asada burrito is his best selling menu item and that most entrees will cost between $3.50 and $5.

LaFon is unsure whether the property will resemble existing Arizona locations, but that the interior and outdoor signage here should look similar.

NRF shuns new health care reform

Washington legislators may be celebrating their passage of a national health care reform package, but the news provoked a sour reaction from the National Retail Federation, which said the new legislation raises costs and will likely lead to retail job losses.

At issue for retailers is the legislation’s inclusion of an employer mandate, which requires business owners to provide health insurance for all of their employees, or pay a penalty to the federal government, in effect, raising the cost of operating a business.

In a statement posted on the organization’s Web site, NRF Vice President and Employee Benefits Policy Counsel Neil Trautwein said the employer mandates amount to a tax on jobs that will drive up labor costs for retailers at a time when the struggling economy and thin profit margins give them the least ability to absorb the added expense.

Trautwein went on to explain that the increased employee costs will force businesses to reduce the size of their workforces, leaving some employees who currently have both a job and health insurance with neither.

Lawmakers must resolve differences between the Senate bill and a similar bill passed by the House this past November before the final legislation goes to President Barack Obama for his signature, but both House and Senate bills include the employer mandate provision.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.