HAZLET – Get ready for taco and burrito fans.
Bubbakoo’s Burritos, the Mexican food chain, is opening a new restaurant at 3070 Route 35 on Friday. The burrito joint is located in downtown Hazlet and hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“Everyone always asks when do we open?” said Wayne Jordan of Aberdeen, who along with friend and business partner Rob Stolker of Holmdel owns the franchise location. “In the northern part of Monmouth County, not two years ago, few people heard of Bubbakoo’s, but now that’s completely changed. Everybody has”
Bubbakoo’s offers Mexican cuisine fused with American funky, like burritos and tacos with crispy Buffalo chicken or sweet chili shrimp. It also offers other menu items such as boneless chicken wings, tater tots and curly fries as well as its signature Love Chips, tortilla chips fried with powdered sugar and caramel. The Hazlet store is the chain’s 21st location in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
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Bubbakoo’s food and local roots were among the reasons Jordan and Stolker signed up at Bubbakoo’s. The company, founded by Paul Altero and Bill Hart, opened its first restaurant, located in Point Pleasant, in 2008. “The Mexican concept is definitely something a lot of people love,” Jordan said.
“It’s really good food,” Stolker said. “We think it’s fresh, healthy. That’s what people want today.”
And Bubbakoo’s is growing. The Hazlet restaurant will be the chain’s 71st location and the couple have announced plans to also open a Bubbakoo’s in Avenel.
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“We’re just in awe of everything they’re doing and what they’re becoming and how they’re building as a brand,” Stolker said. “We think we’re at the start of what’s going to be a big, exploding brand.”
Jordan said he and Stolker will focus on supporting the local community. They recently joined the Hazlet Small Business Association. “There’s a lot of volunteer work, sponsorships, a lot of things that we want to connect to the community,” Jordan said.
Bubbakoo’s is part of a revival in downtown Hazlet. Once the home of empty giant Kmart and Pathmark stores, Woodbridge-based owner Onyx Equities has transformed the center, dividing up large locations with tenants to make way for Burlington, Aldi and Planet Fitness.
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Bubbakoo’s is part of a renovated space that used to be Planet Fitness before the fitness club moved to a different part of the center. Panera Bread should open next door. A Wawa convenience store with fuel pumps has yet to begin construction.
David P. Willis, an award-winning business writer, has covered business and consumer news at the Asbury Park Press for more than 20 years. He writes APP.com’s What’s Going There column and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join his What’s Going There page on Facebook for updates.