By MITCHELL BROWN
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The door opens, and the sound of Jerry Cantrell’s power chords cuts through the air as Alice in Chain’s “Man in the Box” blares from a radio.
A young man, appearing to be in his early 20s, dressed in blue jeans and a black fleece and a backward Hurley hat, stands facing a countertop that is decorated with a neatly arranged stack of fliers and a disheveled collection of receipts. He orders some burritos to go. About 15 minutes later, two young men in Army fatigues do the same.
The scene is a late Friday afternoon at Chego Burritos, one of Warrensburg’s newest homegrown restaurants, which opened in early December 2013. The eatery is anomalous in that it’s a lone food business nestled amongst a strip of commercial properties in which clothing boutiques dominate.
“I probably should have started a juice bar or a smoothie operation, given that I am surrounded by women’s retail stores,” said Chris O’Hearn, manager of Chego Burritos.
O’Hearn is not new to the restaurant business – his family members are restaurateurs by trade, for almost 20 years. They own Oriental Cuisine in Warrensburg, which O’Hearn also manages.
The word “Chego” is not Spanish, but Korean – it translates to “awesome.” O’Hearn said the creation of Chego Burritos happened due to his family looking for new challenges and opportunities. One challenge is getting people to notice the new restaurant.
“It’s tucked into a corner, so it gets less drive-by traffic,” O’Hearn said.
Ricky Brooks, Warrensburg resident and Chego Burritos employee, said the location hinders business. But he said he also noticed more customers coming in now that UCM is back in session. Brooks commented that some customers have just wandered in, not knowing about the place, and then ordered.
Brooks said a lot of the restaurant’s clientele are military personnel and college students, which he attributes to low prices and large portions.
When commenting on how Chego Burritos’ food ranks alongside national chains, Brooks said it stacks up somewhere between Taco Bell and Chipotle.
“It’s not junk food,” he said. “The meat gets cut in the back, we grill it, we make all our own sauces, so it’s not like you’re going to get processed crumbs.”
Chego Burritos recently launched a breakfast menu, and the restaurant will soon offer deliveries, which will be during regular hours. The crew at Chego Burritos has yet to rev up a full-scale advertising blitz, but Brooks said he does promotion through word of mouth and Facebook.
An unorthodox method of promotion is utilized via Brook’s band, Fuzz Beater, which often plays at the Bay on Pine Street. The words “sponsored by Chego Burritos” are sprawled across a flier for an upcoming Fuzz Beater gig.
O’Hearn said Brooks is a defacto second-in-command at the restaurant because of his years of previous food service experience. Brooks said for the time being he plans to stay with Chego Burritos.
“You’ll see more of our (Fuzz Beater) fliers here, and I’ll continue rolling burritos,” Brooks said.
Chego Burritos is located at 320 E. Young Ave. and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.