Tomorrow's News Today Atlanta: Willy's Mexicana Grill Keeps Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
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Buckhead Patch: Willy's Helps Wheelchair Athletes in Shepherd Shoot-out:
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Insite Atlanta: Best of Atlanta 2012 - Best Burrito Willy's Mexicana Grill:
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Cobb in Focus Magazine: Curbside Cuisine
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11Alive.com: Willy's opens in Ponce redevelopment
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The Independent Florida Alligator: Fresh Mexican food is simply the way Willy's does it
February 9, 2012
Atlanta Business Chronicle: Council approves $3B Atlanta airport concessions package
January 4, 2012
The Georgia Bulletin: Young artist wins $1,000 for St. Joseph School and she gets free burritos for a month
INsite Gainesville - Cover Feature
Sept 10, 2012
ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE: Willy's opening 1st Florida store
June 24, 2011
AJC: First franchise Willy's Mexicana Grill to open in Gainesville, Fl.
June 14, 2011
AJC: Up close: 'We are really community-driven'
May 28, 2011
KNIFE & FORK: Willy's Mexicana Grill
ATLANTA INTOWN PAPER: Willy Bitter: The Brains Behind the Super Burrito
SUNBELT FOOD SERVICE: On the Cutting Edge with Willy Bitter
In July 1995, Willy Bitter opened the first Willy’s Mexicana Grill in Atlanta, specializing in big “California-Style” stuffed burritos, tacos, quesadillas and made-from-scratch sauces and a selection of Mexican beers. His simple but fresh food concept has been a success for the fast-casual format. This year Bitter opened his 15th restaurant in the metro Atlanta area and has a growing catering operation. See our story, inside.
BITTER SPICES UP FRESH, FAST, MEXICAN FOOD
As a child, Willy Bitter set his sights on becoming a marine biologist. But, as so often happens, his path changed, and the Asheville, N.C., native obtained a degree in economics from the University of North Carolina. Following a stint living, working and sampling authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food in San Francisco, Bitter returned to the South with one thing on his mind. But it wasn’t economics or marine biology — it was burritos!
In July 1995, Bitter opened the first Willy’s Mexicana Grill in Atlanta, specializing in big “California-Style” stuffed burritos, along with tacos, quesadillas and made-from-scratch sauces, guacamole and a selection of Mexican beers. Once word of Willy’s got out, customers flocked to the simple but fresh concept where orders were customized to the diner’s preferences. The ambiance also was inviting — designed with warm colors and the look of “a funky, colorful burrito joint,” according to Bitter. In 2005, he opened his 15th restaurant in the metro Atlanta area. There’s also a kiosk in an office building in Midtown Atlanta as well as a growing catering operation.
Bitter, 39, recently spoke with Senior Staff Writer Mindy McBain about Willy’s Mexicana Grill and its success in the Atlanta market.
What is the primary focus of Willy’s Mexicana Grill?
It’s mainly a focus on fresh ingredients. We make everything in the restaurant; we make our guacamole twice a day; we make our salsa every day. I guess “California,” equating that with fresh, is what we’re trying to do.
You opened in ’95, yet fast-casual didn’t really take off until about three years ago. Were you ahead of the curve?
I’d been out to California, I had seen how popular it was out there, and there was nothing really like that in this area. I figured as along as I can get good food out there and get a good location, people will come. Everybody knows our burritos, but they can customize them exactly the way they want, and they get a huge amount of food for a great price. I knew that people liked good food at a good price, and they like it quick.Collapse Full Review
AJC City Life Business: PROFILE: Burrito lover launched Willy's
January 29, 2004
Willy’s Mexicana Grill was created out of the owner’s love for California-style burritos. Customers loved them, too, and the chain has grown to 12 locations. Two more restaurants will open soon.
The business, with headquarters at 5600 Roswell Road, was created by Willy Bitter, who co-owns it with Keith Norris.
“I lived in San Francisco, and they had great burritos,” Bitter said. “I got addicted to them, so when I couldn’t find here what I wanted, I opened my own.”
Bitter said his California-style burritos weigh more than a pound, with rice, beans, meat or marinated tofu, cheese, fresh salsa, sour cream and lettuce rolled up in a 12-inch tortilla shell.
Willy’s locations include Midtown, Buckhead, Vinings, Peachtree Center, Norcross, Marietta, Decatur and the Mall of Georgia. Stores will open soon near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and on Barrett Parkway in Cobb County.
Menu items include burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, and rice and beans with no animal products.
Bitter, an Asheville, N.C., native, said he has a passion for Mexican food and has taken cooking classes in Mexico. “We try to bring the real, authentic product,” he said. “We buy produce fresh daily, make everything for that day, and run out and do it all over again the next day.”
Bitter said when he opened the first Willy’s at 4377 Roswell Road, there were only about three other independent burrito restaurants in metro Atlanta. After three years, he opened the Vinings location.
“It’s one of those things where we’ve been fortunate,” he said. “We’re a locally owned chain, and I’m out in the restaurants all the time, tasting the food and making sure everything is good.”
Vegetarian and children’s menus are available. “We also offer burritos in a bowl with no carbs,” he said. “We make everything in front of you, so you can customize your order.”
Catering for large groups and corporate affairs is available, as are corporate deliveries downtown.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at most locations. The Peachtree Center location serves breakfast burritos 7:30-10:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The Web site, which includes all locations and phone numbers, is www.willys.com.Collapse Full Review
AJC Restaurant Recommendations
June 23, 2001
AJC Fall dining guide: JOHN KESSLER'S TOP 50 RESTAURANTS
October 13, 2000
Here are John Kessler’s picks for the metro area’s top 50 restaurants, listed alphabetically, not by ranking. The numbers correspond to where they are located on the map. Mini-reviews of each follow. 1. Antica Posta
4. Atlanta Fish Market
8. Brasserie Le Coze
9. CK’s Grilled Pizza
11. Corky’s Ribs & BBQ
12. Dai Loi
13. Dick & Harry’s
14. The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead
15. 88 Tofu House
17. Floataway Cafe
18. Hae Woon Dae
20. Horseradish Grill
21. Killer Creek Chop House
22. La Grotta
23. La Tavola
24. Little Szechuan
26. Mumbo Jumbo
29. Nuevo Laredo Cantina
30. Oh . . . Maria!
31. Pano’s & Paul’s
32. Pasta da Pulcinella
34. Royal China
37. Sotto Sotto
38. Soto Japanese Restaurant
39. Sushi Avenue
40. Swallow at the Hollow
42. Taqueria del Sol
43. Thai Chili
45. Thumbs Up Diner
46. Udipi Cafe
47. The Vortex (2 locations)
49. Willy’s Mexicana (5 locations)
50. ZocaloCollapse Full Review