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New burrito shop serves it up big

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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If there is one thing that the Roseville restaurant scene has arguably been lacking, it is a place where you can get an 8-pound burrito. The so-called void has been filled, however, by a new restaurant that opened up shop in Roseville Monday. Freebirds World Burrito opened at 11 a.m. to a crowd of hungry burrito aficionados, many of whom were curious about the restaurant’s famed “Super Monster” burrito. Some customers began arriving as early as Sunday afternoon and camped overnight in order to be one of the first 25 to get free burritos for one year. The Super Monster typically weighs in anywhere between 5 and 8 pounds, according to Freebirds associate Shelby Hanson. The company prides itself on its laid back “rock ‘n’ roll” vibe, fresh ingredients and variety of options. “Everything you see on our line is made from scratch,” said associate Eric Greene. “That’s one thing that our brand prides itself on is we are essentially a from-scratch kitchen.” Burritos are handmade in an “assembly line” with a selection of more than 40 ingredients including grass-fed beef, hormone-free chicken or slow-roasted carnitas. Toppings include vegan refried beans, black beans, cilantro/lime rice, veggies, hot peppers, house-made salsas, the house special “queso” sauce and guacamole. Roseville native Andrei Tcacenco goes to school at the University of California at Santa Barbara and said he is no stranger to Freebirds, which opened its first location there in 1987. “I’m up here for break,” Tcacenco said Monday. “I was anticipating for this to open up here.” Roseville resident Tom Burger decided to try the chicken Freebird burrito Monday. “It was excellent, everything was cooked well,” Burger said. “It’s a good environment, everyone is really friendly.” The independent restaurant chain expanded into College Station in Austin, Texas, in 1991 and began to obtain a cult-like following, Greene said. In keeping with the mantra that “everything is bigger in Texas,” Freebirds developed the Super Monster in an attempt to drive business and promote the restaurant, Hanson said. “The original Freebirds didn’t have a Super Monster,” she said. “It basically made us what we are today.” Parent company Tavistock Restaurants LLC, based in Emeryville, purchased the company four years ago when Freebirds operated 19 stores, according to vice president of operations Peter Gaudreau. The company has since expanded to about 60 restaurants, with its first Northern California location in Roseville, and plans to open more in the area in the near future, Gaudreau said. With loud rock music playing in the background and a “rebel” Harley-Davidson theme, Greene said the company likes to think outside the box when it comes to its business model. “We’re in the hospitality business, we’re not in the restaurant business,” Greene said. “So knowing that, everything we do has to exceed everything and every one of our competitors outside these four walls.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.