Chow Town

Moe’s Southwest Grill plans more KC area restaurants

Moe’s Southwest Grill has signed a development deal to bring 30 new restaurants to Missouri.

The new franchisee, Jeff Offutt of Columbia, said he will first target smaller but still well-populated cities like Columbia, Jefferson City and Springfield through 2015. In the “second wave” of openings, he will focus on Kansas City and St. Louis. Each location will have about 25 employees.

Offutt has been in the restaurant franchise business for 18 years and owns multiple Subway and Five Guys Burgers and Fries in mid and southern Missouri.

“I do have a broker looking. If I find the right real estate in Kansas City or St. Louis, I will hop on it,” Offutt said. “We are going to be very patient so we don’t open in a mediocre location.”

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual concept focusing on customizable Southwestern cuisine. It was founded in 2000 in Atlanta and now has about 500 locations and plans to open 100 more in 2014, he said.

Another franchisee operates a Shawnee location. Two other locations also operated for a short time.

But Offutt said the Moe’s leadership has changed since then and is more focused on the quality of the product and customer service than on selling burritos.

“They have been making changes starting with the food - broadened the menu and improved a lot of the products and revamped the decors,” Offutt said. “They are much more selective on the franchisees - more experienced owners.”