This week Boston.com celebrated its 16th birthday by hosting pop-up parties around the city, including one at the Boloco Commons location. Boloco tweeted to its followers on Monday that the Boston Globe was paying for lunch from 12 to 1, and after I saw the announcement, I decided it was time for lunch. Luckily, the Boloco Commons location is only a five minute walk from Morrissey & Company, but once I arrived, there was already a line of hungry Emerson students out the door. I declared it a sunk cost and stayed put, anxiously waiting to order my teriyaki steak burrito. The wait for the burrito was short, but it was the added Nutella milkshake that made me wait a bit longer.
But I’m not writing this post to complain about the wait. This post is meant to celebrate Boston.com’s birth as well as praise Boloco for putting their reputation on the line and enduring probably one of the most hectic hours they’ve had in a while. As I stood waiting for my milkshake, I observed the employees as they made burrito after burrito, milkshake after milkshake, while trying to deal with the crowd of people waiting for their free lunch. One employee in particular, Eric the area manager, was coordinating much of the burrito distribution efforts with ease, politeness, and humor. He told everyone to have a wonderful day, thanked them for stopping by, and ensured that no one forgot their side of chips and guac. After I promptly received my burrito, I said that I was just waiting on my milkshake. Eric said it was going to be a little while longer, and I replied saying I didn’t mind because this lunch was free. Their response? “I like that mentality.”
Boloco – I like your mentality. Why did Boston.com think you’d be a great place to host a pop up party? Because they knew your reputation would make the party a success. They predicted no matter how many people showed up or how many people were jammed into your store, you would live up to your reputation and still provide everyone with an enjoyable experience and lunch. I watched Boloco’s employees interact with each other as I waited in line. They were smiling and not stressing over the massive amount of people watching them scoop mango salsa onto tortillas. Even the milkshake guys were laughing as they worked extremely fast and under pressure. (I even saw them remake three milkshakes that didn’t fill the cup all the way to the top.) That’s the first sign Boloco is doing something right – their employees are happy.
The second sign was how the employees interacted with the customers. Eric was the MC of the show. He didn’t skip a beat. If you wanted a side of salsa, he got it. Needed a straw? He already put on in your bag. It’s hard to tell someone they are going to have to wait ten minutes for a milkshake, but Eric did it well.
Boloco’s reputation around Boston and online is one to replicate. They are attentive and responsive in the stores as well as in responding to comments and concerns on Twitter and Facebook. Because of these efforts, Boloco was the perfect place to host a lunch party. And hopefully anyone who visited Boloco for the first time during the free lunch frenzy will return on a quieter day to see the burrito pros in action. I hope Boston.com had a fun time at their Sweet 16 at Boloco because I sure did!