In honor of the 80th anniversary of Elvis’ birthday, we re-introduced our good friend, the Memphis BBQ. We put on our blue suede shoes and danced our way out of January into a glorious Patriots Super Bowl win, which brought $4 original-sized burritos in honor of their fourth championship win. We were on such a roll that not even the never ending winter (remember the #bolovortex?) could stop us! We were turning 18 soon, so we turned to the people and we held an election to find out, once and for all, which one of our burritos is the real MVP. The Buffalo swept the election and New England burrito lovers rejoiced at the sound of $3 original, $2 small, and $1 mini Buffalo burritos and bowls on our 18th birthday – February 24, 2015.
The snow wasn’t stopping in March, but that wasn’t going to keep us down. In fact, we decided to bring summer to New England early. We said, “It’s summer somewhere!” and we paired our Summer burrito with a $1 mini Mango Passion smoothie. Plus, we donated 10 cents to our friends at the Boston Harbor Island Alliance for every Summer sold.
We kicked off April with our annual April Fools’ joke… almost predictable after so many years of successful pranks, but we figured why not give it a shot one last time. This year, we gave up on our whole “globally inspired burritos” schtick, re-branded, and changed our name back to our way-back-when name, The Wrap. To make up for the joke and those who fell for it, we brought 1997 retro-pricing to our menu for that day only… not our best effort, not our worst either.
In June, after a 2-year hiatus, co-founder and former CEO John Pepper purchased control of Boloco from its private equity investors and returned as CEO, Chairman and majority owner. With restaurants in DC and Maryland having closed in late 2014, two expiring leases, and annual losses in the millions of dollars, a turnaround was vital to avoid bankruptcy. While many of the restaurants continued to see strong sales, corporate expenses had remained extraordinarily high during the non-growth years of 2013-2015. It was time for a return to the company’s roots… lean management, a renewed focus on its long-time mission and people first philosophy, and a good dose of luck.
In December, after weeks of internal discussions and debate, we raised the floor wages to $11 per hour, and our average hourly wage hit the MIT standard living wage for the first time since starting. Still paltry, it would cost Boloco nearly $1.2M if sales remained the same… and more if they dropped. It felt like a “bet-the-company” moment in the name of doing what we believed to be right… and it was. Here’s a little more on wages at Boloco.