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    The man behind a chain of 11 outlets in Bengaluru, talks about plans in Chennai and why he chose Ambattur to enter the city

    California Burrito was started three years ago in Bengaluru by three Americans. Since then, they have opened 11 more outlets across the Garden City before bringing their brand to Chennai a month ago. “I studied in Jaipur and enjoyed my time there, but missed Mexican food a lot. That’s what sparked this idea. But overall, I was amazed by the Indian growth story and excited by the entrepreneurial opportunities here,” says Bert Mueller, who roped in his friends Dharam Khalsa and Gaelan Connell to join him in the venture. The latter actually put his acting career on hold to come here.

    But why, after operating 11 outlets successfully, would this trio choose a food court in Ambattur to open their first branch outside Bengaluru? “We1 chose Chennai because it has growing spending power and large investments are being made here,” says Mueller, adding, “Ambattur, because the rent was moderate and the other restaurants in the Ambit food court do pretty well.” Yes, California Burrito will be expanding within the city, with an outlet coming up in DLF Tech Park, Porur, in December and a stand-alone outlet in Nungambakkam in February. “We plan to have eight outlets in Chennai by mid 2017,” Bert shares.

    We like that California Burrito keeps things simple. Their core products are the burrito and rice bowls with a choice of chicken, paneer and potato as main ingredients, and toppings ranging from spicy beans to pico de gallo, corn salsa and sour cream. The chain scores brownie points for coming up with local flavours like Chettinad chicken that’s a limited offering in Chennai. “People love our rice bowls, burritos and pink nimbu pani,” says Mueller, adding that they work with organisations like the All India Avocado Producer Association and have begun plans for contract farming key ingredients that are not traditionally available in India. “We’re continuing to expand in Bengaluru and will be ramping up our growth to Hyderabad and Delhi next year,” Mueller shares. For now, we await the festival of local flavors that he promises will start next March.

    Mini burritos from Rs 120 onwards. Details: 26252105

    Ryan Peppin

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