Moe's Southwest Grill continues its march across central Ohio, with its next location opening in the former Cosi on Bethel Road.
"We're up against Chipotle so we need to make our presence known," said Bryan Connelly, operating partner of Bullard Restaurant Group, the local franchisee of Moe's.
"Coming in with one store here is not going to do that," Connelly said.
The Bethel Road store is the fourth of 14 locations the restaurant group, based in Raleigh, N.C., has planned for the Columbus region.
The 2,800-square-foot outparcel, to seat 80, is expected to be open by Thanksgiving.
It's a high-spot in the restaurant-rich Bethel Centre, which counts at least 15 food uses, including full-service restaurant, bars and ethnic grocery stores that offer prepared meals.
Connelly said Moe's fits comfortably in the middle -- an inexpensive quick-serve restaurant where the average check is $9.
"That in and of itself is one segment that gives us an edge, in particular for lunch," he said.
"If you want to save money and you're on a limited timeline you can get in and get out."
Moe's is also child-friendly, with kids 12 and under accompanied by a parent eat free every Tuesday, Connelly said.
The chain, founded in 2000 in Atlanta, has 500 stores nationwide.
Bullard Restaurant Group owns 23 stores overall, plus Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q and Burger King franchises, said Connelly, who's also vice president of operations for the company.
Moe's is known for made-to-order burritos, tacos, nachos, salads and burrito bowls, and 20-plus toppings. Free chips and salsa are served with every meal.
"We greet everybody who walks through the door," he said. "We pride ourselves on a lively environ- ment."
The restaurant will open without alcohol but company officials have applied for a license to sell beer, Connelly said.