Carrie Rengers

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

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."