By Will Fairless
Barberito’s, a fast/casual restaurant that serves Southwest-style burritos and salads, is opening a new location in Opelika this summer. The new restaurant, which will be located by Resting Pulse Brewery at 702 First Ave. in the former home of Dorris Signs, will be the second Barberito’s in the Auburn-Opelika area.
The first Barberito’s location opened on Feb. 2, 2000, on the University of Georgia’s campus, and its menu featured salads, burritos and burrito bowls. The menu is much the same today, and every item is made fresh in the restaurant, from hand-smashed guacamole to chicken and steak grilled daily.
Mark Weeks, the owner of the existing Auburn location, plans to take advantage of the growth downtown Opelika is experiencing. The new restaurant will be 4,000 square feet, almost twice as many as the Auburn location. “With all of what’s going on in downtown Opelika, the development – redevelopment, I’d say – being able to get a restaurant in that location, of that size, is a lot of room,” Weeks said.
The new location will feature the same burrito-centric menu as the Auburn one, but the atmosphere will be much different.
“We have these glass garage doors that are gonna open up, so you have kind of an indoor-outdoor seating area. It’s gonna be unique,” Weeks said.
Weeks was born in Atlanta, and he has been in the restaurant business for 15 years. He has owned a Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins with his brother, run the west coast division of Pizza Hut and run the northeast division of Starbucks. He said he has always wanted the opportunity to own a business on his own: “We had the opportunity to do it, to move back down south and plant some roots.” He and his wife have five kids, and he said Opelika appeals to him as a place to plant those roots.
Weeks is excited to work with the Opelika community by catering events and doing the same fundraiser days the Auburn location does, during which a portion of the restaurant’s profits are given to the organization sponsoring the fundraiser. “There’s not too many ‘Main street, USA’s’ anymore, and I feel like downtown Opelika’s one of those,” Weeks said.
Weeks is proud of the loyalty that he’s earned from his customers in Auburn, and he anticipates the experience (in which the employees know the customers’ names, stories and usual orders) to be amplified for his patrons in Opelika.
To find out more about Barberito’s, visit barberitos.com or call the restaurant at 334-887-9838.