BY BETHANY BUMP Gazette Reporter

A local fast-casual restaurant that’s looking to become a contender in the national Tex-Mex niche is making slow but steady strides toward its goal.

As Hot Harry’s Fresh Burritos announced its ninth franchise contract Wednesday, the restaurant with its flagship store in Schenectady is planning for the July opening of a store in Glenmont and eyeing sites in Malta.
Hot Harry’s President and co-founder Samir Abdallah said Wednesday that the company will also open a new restaurant in the suburbs of Boston, with eventual plans to expand into that city.

“My original goal was to have 10 stores by 2010,” he said in a news release Wednesday. “A fire at the Schenectady franchise flagship store set us back. But, with nine stores once Boston opens, we’re on track once again with many prospects.”

The Schenectady store at 1625 Union St. is used as a two-week training center for new franchise holders to learn the business. The company employs a collective 100 people at its stores.

Abdallah said the company’s goal is to open a store in Malta, where it would be close to all the development and growth happening in the Saratoga County town.

“We don’t have anything official yet,” he said Wednesday. “We’re talking to people. There are always people contacting us about a franchise store. Some of them are qualified. Some have their hearts set on certain locations. But we’re not oversaturated in the area of Malta yet.”

Hot Harry’s has its corporate headquarters in Pittsfield, Mass., where it was founded by Abdallah and his wife in 2004. It also has locations in East Greenbush, Albany, Latham and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It will open its Glenmont store in July at 365 Feura Bush Road in Glenmont Centre Square.

Although the company is actively trying to expand its franchises, Abdallah says it’s very selective about bringing on new franchise partners.

“We’re careful,” he said. “We don’t want to compete with ourselves. It would be unwise to saturate our markets by having Hot Harry locations too close to each other.”

Hot Harry’s is an enticing franchise to join, he said, touting the company’s low startup investment and multiple revenue streams from dine-in, takeout and catering. He said it also has national buying power, low equipment, fixtures and signage pricing and a host support service.

A franchisee would invest about $225,000, and it takes about 16 weeks to go from signed contract to opening, he said.