WOWorks acquires Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina, Zoup!

Parent of Saladworks, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh continues to build empire of fast-casual brands that beat to their own rhythm

WOWorks acquired Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery. The parent of Saladworks, Frutta Bowls, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, and The Simple Greek will be adding the two brands, which the companies feel share a “common core DNA,” to the fast-casual portfolio.

The two acquired brands offer a plant-forward and nutritious menu, WOWorks suggested. The WOWorks portfolio now holds 400 operating units and 10,000 restaurant jobs after these acquisitions.

WOWorks purchased Garbanzo Fresh Mediterranean and Frutta Bowls out of bankruptcy at the end of 2020. Furthermore, it acquired The Simple Greek last March.

Barberitos, a Southwestern fast-casual burrito, taco, bowl and salad concept, offers a customizable menu. Guests create their personalized items with proteins and toppings. Meals are 100% natural, using hormone-free and plant-based proteins prepared fresh daily. The restaurant chain has opted for farm-fresh ingredients, notes WOWorks, and locally-sourced ingredients for a variety of lifestyles.

Founded in 2000, Barberitos has grown into a 54-unit chain, 50 of which are franchised. Based in Athens, Ga., the chain is mostly located in the Southeast. The Zoup! Eatery footprint encompasses the northern mid-central states and Ontario, Canada.

Zoup! Eatery has been offering soups, broth bowls, salads and sandwiches for 24 years. The Zoup! Eatery menu offers 12 rotating daily soups. With a focus on delicious, nutrient-dense and clean label ingredients, the chain has grown to 67 franchised units and a single corporate store.

“Today, we welcome both Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery to the WOWorks family,” said Kelly Roddy, chief executive of the WOWorks enterprise, fully owned by Centre Lane Partners, LLC. “These brands share our overall goal to grow into one of the largest plant-forward, good-for-you companies in the restaurant sector. Equally as important, both brands are in direct alignment with our WOWorks Vision, Mission and Shared Values (BE Passionate, BE Inventive, BE Accountable, BE Fulfilled, and BE Real). They are dedicated to fueling the passions of their team members, guests, partners and communities to give everyone the opportunity to live their best life.”

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WOWorks will integrate the Barberitos and Zoup! infrastructure and operations into the organization. Leveraging services and vendor relationships, executives expect to increase the purchasing power and cost efficiencies of these brands.

Eric Ersher, the founder and previous CEO of Zoup! Systems, LLC will remain in control of Zoup! Specialty Products, LLC. Fulfilling his mission, Ersher will continue to distribute products created from clean ingredients that were designed to “bring the brand’s restaurant quality taste to the retail market,” according to an announcement.

Roddy added, “In closing, we are incredibly proud of our entire WOWorks family and extremely excited to welcome Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery to our portfolio of brands. Together, we look forward to fueling the ‘Originality’ of our team members, guests, business partners and communities and giving everyone the opportunity to live their best life.”

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