Freebirds World Burrito opens in Tyler today.
"Tyler has been an area we've been looking at for a long time," Bree Blouin, director of local marketing, said while visiting the construction site in April.
She said she thinks Tyler will be a good fit for Freebirds because of its large base of graduates of Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin — who are typically "Freebirds fanatics," she said.
The first 25 people in line when the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. will receive free burritos for a year.
Freebirds held soft openings Friday and Saturday, inviting people to eat there for $5 donations to support its community partners Arms of Hope and USO Dallas.
The build-your-own burrito chain renovated the space that formerly housed Casa Ole in the Times Square retail center. Freebirds completely renovated the inside of the building, gave the exterior a whole new look and built two outdoor patios.
Although opening about a month later than planned, "Freebirds fanatics" can now build their own burritos. Options start with four sizes and four flavors of tortilla. Customers can choose to pack it with a variety of meats, cheeses, rice, beans, vegetables and condiments. The restaurant also offers nachos and salads.
Ms. Blouin said they are a "scratch kitchen," making everything fresh daily.
College Station was the first Texas town to get a Freebirds in Texas in 1990.
The restaurant started in 1987 near the beach in Santa Barbara, California. Tyler's will be the 67th Freebirds in Texas, and there are 106 restaurants nationwide, according to www.freebirds.com. Freebirds is owned and operated by Tavistock Restaurants.
Ms. Blouin said the company plans to grow in Texas but has no current plans for more stores in the Tyler area. Other Texas restaurants are in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Waco. There also are corporate stores in Oklahoma and California, and franchise stores in the Midwest and Utah, Ms. Blouin said.
The Tyler store will have about 30 employees, Bobby Shaw, senior vice president of operations, has said. The building that formerly housed Casa Ole was divided into two lease spaces and a nail salon is planning to open next to Freebirds.
"This is obviously a main traffic lane through Tyler," Shaw said of why they chose the location. "It's a great center. There's a lot of synergy in the area."
IF YOU GO
Freebirds: 5105 S. Broadway Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.