David Cox of East Stone Gap and Chris Bartee of Big Stone Gap formed BACO Enterprises LLC to operate the franchise eatery in the Norton Commons shopping center next to Walmart. Renovations of the space are underway and the pair hopes to open the business this month.
Barberitos is described as a fast casual southwestern cuisine restaurant.
"We are going to make everything from scratch daily and there will be several healthy options on the menu, vegetables, ground turkey, beef, steak, even tofu. Where else can you get tofu in a taco?," said Cox, 46, a certified public accountant and former chief financial officer for Wise County who operates an accounting firm in Wise.
Cox and his partner, 42-year-old nurse practitioner Bartee, spent 19 days in Athens, Ga., in training sessions learning the Barberitos system for their new restaurant. Bartee said the closest Barberitos to the area is in the Tri-Cities "and we discussed several business ideas and did research, and we liked the idea of bringing the fresh food concept to Wise County."
Cox and Bartee worked with Tim Blankenbecler, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mountain Empire Community College, to prepare their VCEDA seed capital matching grant application.
VCEDA's seed capital matching grant program is designed to assist for profit businesses of one year or under in existence with less than 10 full time employees.
"We're very thankful for the seed capital matching grant," said Cox. "It is very helpful in our plan to bring another dining option to Wise County and to employ local people. We want to help promote Wise County as a destination and support Wise County at the same time.
BACO Enterprises projects one full time and 15 part time employees.
"Adding amenities such as a new dining business helps to not only improve the quality of life offerings in our region, a very important advantage that helps market our area, but this is also adding jobs," said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. "BACO Enterprises is a good fit for the seed capital matching grant program."