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Lawrence Freebirds World Burrito closes, but Wichita Freebirds is doing fine

01/22/2014 5:00 AM

01/22/2014 6:10 AM

WICHITA — The Freebirds World Burrito in Lawrence has closed after a year in business, but that doesn't mean anything for Wichita Freebirds restaurants, one of the chain's operators says.

"Everything's great there," says Bryce Katz, COO and partner in Overland Park-based FB Midwest Development, which is the first franchisee of the chain that's based in Texas and California

"We never had a following in Lawrence, unfortunately," Katz says. "Being a graduate of Kansas, it's very disappointing."

He says when the restaurant first opened on Massachusetts Street in late January last year, there was a great reception in the community. Then came a couple of big snowstorms followed by spring break.

"It just killed our momentum," Katz says.

He's not sure why.

"If I knew it would probably have helped us not to close."

The first Wichita Freebirds opened in in June south of Central and Hillside in the same center as Great Wall.

"It's the best in our system actually," Katz says of the chain's six restaurants.

"Wichita people have taken well to it," he says. "We're working on getting that service piece going faster and getting people through the line and operationally getting more sound."

Katz says the rest of his company's restaurants "are doing great."

Another one is planned for the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich.

Katz says a west-side Freebirds is a possibility as well. He says there's "room for expansion."

"We're definitely open to look."

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com

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