Edit

Entrepreneur of the month: Bryan Lockwood

Establishments: Sapporo, ZED451, Napa Valley Grill, California Café, Café del Rey, Blackhawk Grille, Alcatraz Brewing Company and Freebirds

Headquarters: Emeryville, CA

What he’s done: With a stable of full-service concepts like the groundbreaking ZED451 and well-established California Café locations in-hand, Lockwood and partner Barry Goff bought the freewheeling, 18-unit Freebirds World Burrito in mid-2008—just before the economy took the precipitous swing that now favors fast-casual. “We loved the freedom-to-choose style of the original concept and the hippie era approach of the founders,” who started the build-your-own-burrito concept in 1987, at UC Santa Barbara, “but we knew we had to cast a wider demographic net to move into mainstream suburban markets.”

Why we like him: Lockwood, 53, retained crucial elements of the edgy, irreverent Freebirds style (backwards-F logo and Lady Liberty on a motorcycle, burrito in hand) and cult following, but added veto-resistant salads and a softer décor package. They also ratcheted up local marketing. “It’s all about the single-store economic model.”

What’s next: The company is on target to double in size in 2010, to 52 units in four states. “The people are our differentiator, both staff and fans. We’re passionate about our team members and our fans are passionate about us.”

Trending

More from our partners