Realtor and restaurateur Tom Noelke has opened BurritOh!, a fast food style Mexican restaurant in the Blue Ridge Shopping Center on Rt. 250. He hopes it could be an idea worth franchising. Noelke also owns two franchise Zaxby’s Restaurants in Roanoke, which he took on partly to learn how franchising works.
“I’d like to franchise Burritoh! over time,” he said. He’s looking at opening another one at Zions Crossroads in June and next opening restaurants in Waynesboro and Lexington.
“We’ll stay close to home—that’s Crozet. Our home office will be here.” Noelke lives in Old Trail. “I would not live anywhere else in the world but Crozet. We are so blessed to be here.”
“The concept is built around families and price,” said Noelke. We try to stay around $7 and buy locally as much as we can. We have a huge gluten-free menu and we have things for vegetarians. We started with lunch and dinner, but we’ll bring breakfast on in March. We’re bringing in Greenberry’s Coffee.”
He’s keeping his real estate career going fulltime with Roy Wheeler Realty and spending a lot of time in Roanoke, too, where he has 70 employees. (The Crozet store has 18 employees.)
“[Restaurants] are systems, essentially, and when you hire great people who keep up the standards of this system, that grows the business and allows me time to be flexible. You have to have a system. Zaxby’s has a system and I’m held accountable.”
BurritOh! offers (obviously) burritos, tacos, salads, quesadillas and nachos, and a kids menu.
“We offer quick, fresh, friendly Mexican food,” said Noelke. “We run it lean and mean so we can offer these prices. We pay our people more to keep them, but means we can’t hire as many as I want. I’m trying to figure out how to grow the brand.”