Boloco CEO apologizes for rough start at Wellesley restaurant

Boloco Wellesley opens Sept 2012Boloco, the burritos and smoothie shop that opened in Wellesley Square at the end of September, has gotten off to a rockier start in town than it and some of its patrons had hoped. But this is a company that’s hyper-aware of its reputation (it markets its products as “globally inspired burritos”) and it has a track record of using social media and other means to stay in tune with customer needs and to give the business a fun feel.

 

CEO John Pepper, who told us at the company’s soft opening that Boloco will strive to be a good corporate citizen in Wellesley, is getting out in front of problems at the Wellesley store by issuing the following letter to customers.

 

Dear Wellesley Friends and Neighbors,

I am writing to apologize to you for a challenging first few weeks of business at our beautiful new restaurant on Central Street.

For all kinds of reasons that you shouldn’t even need to worry about, we’ve made too many mistakes with your orders, forced many of you to endure incredibly unacceptable wait times, and provided the kind of service on occasion that could only be classified as “un-boloco”. The last two days have been by far the most challenging, with multiple team members calling out and leaving the restaurant severely understaffed and therefore wholly unprepared to delight and dazzle you, our guests.

We received the following email from a long-time loyal guest earlier this evening which captures the severity of the situation:

Hi. We are huge fans and eaters of all things Boloco. We are so happy you chose to open in Wellesley!

We were hoping to enjoy dinner at your Wellesley location tonight, and were very surprised with your staff’s glaring un-Boloco-like service. We noticed customers were leaving upon approaching the counter – and learned we too would have a 20 minute wait for our food.

There were only a few families in the restaurant so this came as quite a surprise to us. The whole experience was very un-Boloco like and you should be made aware of this. Many families left the restaurant tonight…and I fear if they are first time customers, they won’t return! We left vs. stay as it was such an awkward customer experience.

Please know that we are all over these issues and working on quick resolutions, but unfortunately I can’t guarantee they will disappear overnight. I can only ask that if you have an experience that is less than delightful, please let our team at Wellesley know, and if for any reason they don’t take care of you, I’d ask that you let me know personally.

Our commitment to turning wrongs into rights is unwavering. We will make it right. And in time, as we have done in so many other New England communities, Boloco will be the kind of restaurant and business that Wellesley can count on for delicious food, passionate customer service, and strong, consistent community support.

If you have any comments in the meantime, please feel free to share with me at anytime.

Thank you for listening, and for your patience.

Sincerely,

John Pepper

CEO & Co-Founder

Boloco

 

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14 Comments

  1. Dylan P
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Honestly, its more than likely just the natural growing pains of a new store that caused these issues. You can’t expect a brand new staff to all work together as a single cohesive team right out of the staring gate, much like how you don’t expect the alpha version of a piece of software to be shippable as soon as the code is finished. It will take time and effort to get things up and running smoothly, and customers should understand that.

    Sadly, we live in such and entitled and spoiled society at this period of time that very few will actually be able to comprehend that fact, and just go about their own selfish lives assuming they are the center of the universe, the entire store should bend to their beck and command, and any errors that might come along are absolutely unacceptable to them, the gods of their own little realms.

    Tried it Twice, although I don’t want to make too many assumptions or be insulting without prior knowledge, seems like the kind of person who would be hyper sensitive to any issue that arose, and thus her feedback comes off as very nit-picky or just plain unreasonable. Statements like “Don’t disappoint me” shout of Unwarranted Self Importance Syndrome,acting as if she is some kind of higher power who decides the fate of your entire food chain in her hands, hands that would probably only account for a fraction of a percent of profit over the course of her loyalty to the store.

    Essentially the point I’m trying to get across is simply to take notice of this kid of feedback, and investigate it yourself, but don’t take it immediately to heart. More than likely a large amount of it is born from peoples own selfishness and want for control, and isn’t actually valid criticism.

    • Tried it Twice
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dylan,

      I’m a guy. Not sure where you got an impression otherwise. Sorry to disappoint you.

      Despite your claims otherwise, Boloco is not new. This ain’t “alpha software” but just another location. The executive team is well versed in the business as is fully explained on the back staircase illustrations. These “growing pains” could have been prevented and certainly shouldn’t be lasting this long.

      Actually, I don’t really complain and I don’t nitpick. I didn’t say anything either time and had effectively written the store off. Much easier to walk away, but I appreciated Mr. Pepper’s reaching out to the community and decided to provide some real feedback.

      Regarding my plea, in the context of Mr. Pepper asking for another chance and my providing feedback, it was apropos. I don’t think this needs any further clarification.

  2. Timmy Hannigan
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ve had boloco a few times and enjoyed it every time, always in natick. Especially the jimmy carter shake, those are really good. I have to say I’m very impressed with boloco and their senior management. The way they are handling this situation, their determination to make sure customers have a good time and that they’re down to earth is very good. After reading this article and the letter from the CEO I think I will be a boloco fan for life. Keep up the good work Mr. Pepper.

    Cheers,

    Tommy

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Thank you Tommy. While your compliments won’t reduce our efforts to make the improvements necessary at Wellesley (and at Natick… we can never be too good, right?!), they are very much appreciated. I will be sure to pass them on!
      Thank you again
      John

  3. Jimi Michiel
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Hey John,

    I’ve been to the new place 3 times and I’ve actually had pretty good experiences each time. One time they forgot my free side of guac and, when I reminded them, they were very polite and also gave me an awesome coupon that I used to get a $3 original burrito later that week. Two of the three times, the insanely happy, friendly guy from your Natick location was there, which may have helped. I believe you when you say you’ve had problems, but just wanted to chime in and say that I’ve been 3 for 3 with typically awesome boloco experiences. Good luck on fixing the issues–I’m looking forward to many, many years of delicious burritos in Wellesley!

    Jimi Michiel

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jimi,
      That’s terrific to hear. Thank you. The Wellesley team (feeling a bit nicked up at this point) will REALLY appreciate it. And yes, Dougie Fresh from Natick can usually turn any situation into a good one, or at least interesting one ;)
      Thanks again!!
      John

  4. John
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Well, I have to agree….the table tops were dirty last week, and the food unfortunately did not taste fresh,,,,the rice in my burrito was hard and crunchy.. The staff seemed leaderless. Not an inviting environment and food needs serious improvement.

  5. John Wiecha
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Well, I have to agree….the table tops were dirty last week, and the food unfortunately did not taste fresh,,,,the rice in my burrito was hard and crunchy.. The staff seemed leaderless. Not an inviting environment and food was not good.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      John Wiecha,
      Yes, that is exactly the kind of experience for which we are apologizing. While I can’t ever assure perfection, the attention being paid to our Wellesley team today versus 36 hours ago is night and day. As always, please feel free to write me a note personally to buzz @boloco dot com with your mailing address and we’ll make up for your poor experience and cover your next. This goes for anyone reading this who has had a similar experience. You should never have to pay for anything that is less than delightful.
      Best regards,
      John Pepper

  6. Pete
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    We’ve visited about once a week since the opening and are excited to have Boloco in Wellesley. I really hope you can smooth out the issues because we’d really like to see Boloco succeed in this location – you did a great job on the shop design, the food is great, the parking is convenient, and the nutella shakes are dangerously good.

    I’ve seen some clumsy over-staffed moments, a not-quite-wrapped burrito and occasionally slower service in non-peak times, but had so far put them down to new team issues. The right manager should be able to fix the remaining issues and get the store on track.

    We’ll be back next week and will let you know how it is going!

    Pete

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      pete,
      thanks so much for the feedback. please feel free to send me your boloco card # or your mailing address to buzz @boloco dot com and we’ll make up for the less than perfect experiences of late and cover your visit next week. It’s the least we can do.
      Cheers,
      John Pepper

  7. Posted October 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tried it Twice,

    We hear you loud and clear. We can do nothing but apologize over and over again, and promise that we are taking it very seriously. Many of us have dedicated years to building a special brand with a meaningful purpose behind it… in my case nearly 16 years… and we can’t afford to do anything other than fix this. We will. Perhaps in a month you’ll have a great experience. And if you don’t, we’ll understand your not returning.

    If you’d like, I’m happy to treat you and some friends/family to your next meal, as well as make up for the last two visits. Just send an email to my attention at buzz @boloco dot com with your mailing address and the amount you spent last two visits and we’ll pop a card in the mail for you. It’s the least we can do.

    Thank you again for your detailed feedback. All of it has been shared.

    Best,

    John Pepper
    CEO/Co-Founder
    Boloco

    • Tried it Twice
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for responding John. I’ll wait a bit to let the team get settled and then try it again with my family.

  8. Tried it Twice
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I don’t really write negative reviews, I usually just check the joint off my list and never return. But since Mr. Pepper has reached out to the community I want to give some feedback.

    Not to pile on but it really is, not just poor, but bad. Bad service and bad management.

    I’ve been there twice. Both times were almost the same experience.

    1) The restaurant is over-staffed. The first night I went, at 6pm, there were 17 employees and only 12 customers. Everyone was tripping over each other. No one was sticking to their stations. There didn’t appear to be a manager. It was chaotic at best.

    2) The guy that I think may have been the manager seemed more intent on conducting a job interview than mentoring the inexperienced staff. While orders were getting screwed up and people were waiting, he just kept interviewing.

    3) The young woman taking the order was flustered by the register. It took almost 7 minutes to take an order for a party of 5. When it was my time for my order, she was clearly agitated. At my job I directly manage 60 people. I tried to use some of my ninja skill to get her back on track. Her reply, “every day here is bad, I don’t want to be here.”

    4) My order was ok, but my daughter’s PBJ came out as some kind of chicken roll. Not a big deal, but it took almost 10 minutes to correct with almost no other orders in the queue.

    5) The restaurant, despite being new, was kind of messy. There were sticky spots on the floor and the table we were sitting at hadn’t been bussed very well.

    6) Consider this a pet peeve, but shouldn’t a “burrito” actually wrap completely around the food? Mine was so poorly folded that it fell apart in my hands and, after washing my hands, had to resort to a fork to finish my meal. Kind of defeats the purpose and the fun.

    Most of these issues point to bad management. I’ve had boloco at other locations and was happy with the product and experience. Theoretically, the product can be held to the normal standards. But the staff, chaos and inattention point to a bad manager. I’ll give it a month to get it together and give it a one last try. Please don’t disappoint me.

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