Meet John Pepper (Co-Founder)

This is John…

9 Things you should know about John
What’s your role at Boloco?
Co-founder, Chief Worker Advocate. I was CEO for over 2 decades too. I like to focus on our mission… using our restaurants and food to positively impact the lives and futures of our people. I was addicted to burritos when we started, and still am. But helping our team rise and thrive has been the fuel that kept me going for so long.
What’s your favorite Color?
Dartmouth Green…
Where did you grow up? 
Hometown is Cincinnati (Ohio) but I spent nearly half my childhood in Europe… both in Brussels, Belgium and Rome, Italy. I got to travel and experience new cultures from an early age. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a pretty incredible childhood.
What’s your favorite boloco burrito or bowl?
I’m infatuated with the NEW Elote Street Corn Bowl – and Burrito. Seriously, just order it. Don’t think about it. But for two decades prior it has been the Buffalo Steak Burrito. When I’m having a bad day, the Buffalo Steak is a cure-all. That will never change.
What do you do professionally other than dream about burritos?
Anyone who knows me knows I struggle to be professional. But, I do try!
I often invest in start-up companies that seem promising and purposeful. I love new businesses and working with founders. I co-founded B.Good over 15 years ago, which was a great experience for more than a decade. I recently started Worthee, a software company focused on helping people in low-wage jobs rise and thrive. I also ran for Selectboard of the town I live in and have been Chairman for the last 2 years. And I’m on some other boards and volunteer positions that I believe matter. It keeps me busy, if not scattered and distracted.
For fun, I try to read as much as possible. I love it. I think I read 25 books in 2019, mostly non-fiction. I also devour podcasts. In 2020, I want to read more books, ride mountain and road bikes more often. I also want to take piano again (I played for many years when I was little). And I want to ski with my wife Maggie and our kids this winter a lot more than I have in years past!
What’s your favorite place to vacation?
Petit St Vincent down in the Caribbean is our favorite vacation spot.
Our favorite place to go in the summer is up in Ontario Canada on Georgian Bay – a small area of islands called Pointe au Baril. My crazy great-great aunt Helen bought a small island up there in 1902 for $5 from the Canadian Government and put up a cottage… I spent almost every summer in that cottage growing up.
What is your favorite boloco memory? 
Too many to nail it down to one.
Pulling the trigger on raising our Boloco minimum wage to $8 per hour in late 2001 when minimum was still $5.75 was something I’ll never forget. Knowing we were doing the right thing, but also knowing we were betting the company. 2002 was one of our most profitable years, which only accelerated my appetite to put taking care of people as our number one priority and business strategy. It hasn’t always worked from a business performance standpoint, not even nearly, but its always been the right thing to do.
Winning a blind taste test by the Boston Globe in 2008 against Chipotle, Anna’s, and Boca Grande was awesome for a minute or two. The burrito battles are endless, especially because I love most of my competitors too, but it’s fun when you get a point on the board!
What’s your biggest accomplishment for 2019?
2019 was a really difficult year for me actually. Personally and professionally – I mean, I turned 50 for starters! Am I allowed to be honest here? 😬 Maybe ask me again in 2020… it’s going to be – needs to be – an awesome year!
What do you hope for your 50th year?
In business, I hope that what we’ve created at both Boloco and our software start-up Worthee helps those working around me find greater happiness and fulfillment… and discover new opportunities for their lives and careers.
For me personally, I just want to continue to learn how to be grateful for all that I have, for the people around me, for the life experiences I’ve had and still look forward to. Things get simpler as you get older. And right now I sound pretty old! 😎

But wait there’s more…

The above picture is of John when he dressed up as ‘Under Cover Boss’ and visited a few locations…he got caught pretty quickly! It’s VERY John to do fun things like this!
John will often jump on a bike to get to a meeting instead of uber…don’t get us wrong, he was once an uber driver himself…but the guy likes to ride a bike…
Lastly, John is all about Boloco & it’s people. Always has been, always will be! Thanks John for the *almost* 23 years of greatness, we think the world of you!
-The Team

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