Burrito chain Moe’s Southwest Grill to open eight stores in valley

By the end of summer, there should be another fast-food player in town.

Native Las Vegans Joseph Ruggeroli and Mike Kelesis recently signed a development agreement to open eight Moe’s Southwest Grills in the Las Vegas Valley throughout the next five years. The eateries will be the first Moe’s locations in Southern Nevada outside of one open in McCarran International Airport’s Concourse A. The next closest Moe’s is in Glenwood Springs, Colo.

The menu at Moe’s includes burritos with tongue-in-cheek names like the “Joey Bag of Donuts” and the “Homewrecker” and includes the “Close Talker” salad. Founded in 2000 in Atlanta, Moe’s has more than 480 locations in the United States and abroad. The company is part of Focus Brands, which owns Cinnabon, Schlotzsky’s, Carvel and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.

Ruggeroli and Kelesis still are negotiating retail spaces in Henderson and downtown Las Vegas but expect their first restaurants to open in mid- to late-summer.

“We have to develop these restaurants in a fairly rapid fashion,” Ruggeroli said. “We have five years to develop the eight restaurants.”

The eight locations will cost the entrepreneurs roughly $6 million to open, he said. The parent company pegs Moe’s average store’s yearly revenue at $1.2 million and expects to open 65 new franchise locations nationally during 2013.

Ruggeroli anticipates hiring 15 employees per location.

“We need a lot of qualified, energetic people, and we really want to hire some teenagers and veterans,” Ruggeroli said.

After they’re open and running, the partners want to add catering and a food truck to their business offerings.

It is both men’s first franchise venture. Ruggeroli has worked in residential real estate, the casino business and the restaurant industry. Kelesis is a day trader and has worked in commercial real estate, but his family previously owned restaurants.

Franchise businesses and their number of employees are both expected to increase nationally in 2013, according to the International Franchise Association’s quarterly update.

The number of franchise establishments will increase by 1.3 percent to 757,438, the report said. Franchise jobs will increase 1.9 percent this year to 8.257 million.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.

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