The Secret to Big Papi’s Success

OK, I exaggerated. Although I do know the secret, I’m not allowed to share them. But, seriously, how else can I convince anyone other than my kids and my mom, not even my wife, to read 800 words? What I can promise you is that this has everything to do with Big Papi…and once again using our burrito business to do good.

Many of you know that running restaurants is often akin to being a fire fighter… without the same life or death moments thankfully. Although with food borne illnesses of all kinds increasing in “popularity”, our team members at Boloco are always on notice as to how important their jobs are for the 40–50,000 guests and 300 team members who enjoy the food we serve at Boloco.

We are constantly putting out fires.

Things like: team members not showing up for work, dissatisfied and sometimes even heartbroken customers, broken equipment (usually AC on the hottest day of the year), upset landlords who would love an excuse to default you on your lease so they can get a new tenant to pay them higher rent, health inspectors conveniently popping in right at lunch with lines of customers snaking out the door, and many more. If you allow yourself to be consumed by all of the BS that can occur on a given day, which many of us do from time to time (ok, always), it can feel like a pretty painful business.

The good news is that even when you are feeling down (or entirely consumed) because of such fires, when you serve as many customers as we do at Boloco, you are bound to run into some inspiring and exciting moments every so often… all you have to do is rise above the flames, look around, listen a bit, and good news follows.

For me, such a moment came shortly after returning to Boloco as CEO last summer. Our PR diva, Nicole Ravlin of PMG (People Making Good) called me and let me know they were working on something featuring Big Papi. An employee nick name, I thought… smart.

No, it turns out it was the one and only David Ortiz, #34 of our beloved Red Sox. Someone from one of his many budding businesses, aptly named Big Papi’s Kitchen Salsa, reached out to us and other businesses that Big Papi frequented to find out if we might work with them to benefit one of his other great loves, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

Wait, what? Big Papi frequents Boloco??

Well, unofficially, because nobody can ever comment on where superstars visit these days due to restrictive endorsement contracts, it is rumored that Ortiz consumed up to two Boloco burritos prior to each home game in Boston. Yes, I liked hearing that. A lot, actually. But I’ve also learned that just because superstars visit our restaurants, of which there have been many, it does not mean that we are going from the JV league to the Majors anytime soon. There was Brady (before his new Gisellian Diet) who allegedly used to have food brought to him from our Newbury Street location, James Taylor back in the day at Cleveland Circle (and look what happened to that store) and Doc Rivers at the Boston Common location, just to name a few.

But you know what? Even if it was all a lie, and Big Papi didn’t actually like Boloco, and visited Chipotle or Anna’s or any other beloved burrito shop in the area (most burrito shops are beloved by somebody), I would still sign up just as enthusiastically for the partnership we started last week.

So here’s the deal… effective until Big Papi’s last day at bat, Boloco has partnered with Big Papi’s Kitchen and the David Ortiz Children’s Fund to launch the “Big Papi’s Kitchen Burrito” (BPK Burrito). For the sale of every BPK Burrito, $1 will be donated to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund which helps children in both New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services, including life-saving surgeries, they need.

The goal is to raise $34,000 (yup, it’s all about the number 34!), all of which will go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund as a ‘thank you’ to David Ortiz for everything he has done for New England.

So what’s in Big Papi’s Kitchen Burrito?

Well, the big man himself told us how his burrito has gotta be done: of course it starts with Big Papi’s Kitchen signature fresh salsa, then add Boloco’s scratch-made guacamole, pinto beans, sour cream, brown rice, lettuce, cheddar cheese and some hot sauce. If you really want it “Big Papi-Style”, you’ll add white-meat chicken… but remember that Boloco offers up a variety of naturally-raised meats, grilled veggies or even organic tofu to finish your burrito off.

When they asked me for a quote, here’s what I said:

“Getting to customize a special burrito for one of our local heroes is a pretty big honor, and to have it go to such a great cause makes it even more special,” explained John Pepper, CEO and co-founder of Boloco.

“We’re all going to have fun making a positive difference this summer. Ortiz is killing it this year, too, which makes it all the better!”

Oh, and that picture of me and Ortiz at the beginning of this blog? I like to note that the Red Sox went 20–10 in the 30 games following that historic shot. For the record, that was on April 12.

Bottom-line…visit Boloco soon and order Papi’s creation. And fingers crossed that we’ll all be raising a Big Papi Kitchen Burrito in celebration of another World Championship this fall along with $34,000 raised for the David Ortiz Children’s Fund.

Now back to those fires.

Originally published at

Husband and Dad | CEO & Co-Founder Worthee | Co-founder Boloco & B.Good | Chairman, Selectboard (Norwich VT) | Former Lyft/Uber Driver | VT/NH/Boston/PAB

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