Magazine Feature / People

Alumnus rolls up burritos and rolls out nutrition and value

In an industry where success is measured by inches in the grocery-store freezer aisle, entrepreneur Phil Anson (BA communications ’00) has managed to increase his company’s dimensions without sacrificing quality.

Last year, Phil’s Fresh Foods, Anson’s Boulder-based burrito company, increased its revenues by 33 percent—doing $1.6 million in sales—and received $96,000 from the Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program.

The loan will help Anson meet his 2009 goals and expand the company’s manufacturing facility to 5,000 square feet.

But while Anson wants Phil’s Fresh Foods to become the leading burrito manufacturing company in the country, he also wants the frozen fare to remain nutritional and affordable.

“We want to redefine the burrito category. That means bridging the gap between made-from-scratch food and large-scale food manufacturing,” says Anson.

Phil’s Fresh Food makes its burritos with natural ingredients—sourced from local vendors when possible—and assembles them by hand. The most popular of the 10 varieties, which sell for about $2.50, include chicken red chili, veggie fajita and chorizo sausage breakfast.

Like his burritos, Anson’s business began simply.

Anson hoped to start a career as a photojournalist after college but instead found himself working nights at a restaurant in Denver while living in Eldorado Springs, Colo. Bored with that routine Anson decided to try funding his modest lifestyle by selling handmade burritos to fellow rock climbers.

Although these initial attempts failed, Anson landed his first wholesale account with the Eldorado Corner Market. Now, eight years after the idea was born, Phil’s Fresh Foods sells burritos in 1,500 mostly natural food stores across the country and in the cafeterias of Jefferson County and Boulder Valley school districts.

“Phil is an operations genius,” says Justin Gold, owner of Justin’s Nut Butter, another Boulder-based natural food company. “He can pull logistical challenges together and make them seem easy because he is an amazing listener and he has an ability to ask the right questions.”

This logistical mastery has enabled Anson to stay true to his original intent even as he endeavors to increase production.

“The focus of our business is made-from-scratch cooking, so we pay a lot of attention to detail,” says Anson. “I want to return some integrity to the frozen food section.”

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