Phat Burrito Maps Out Charlotte Return Six Years After Closing

phat burrito

By Jennifer Thomas – Senior Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal

July 14, 2023

Phat Burrito is inching closer to its Charlotte return after a six-year hiatus.

The popular burrito concept shuttered its doors in South End in February 2017. Fast-casual chain Flower Child is now located at that spot on Camden Road.

Charlotte native Michael Cox is looking to revive Phat Burrito in a 2,600-square-foot location in LoSo Village in lower South End. It will be located at 3542 Dewitt Lane.

Cox says he bought Phat Burrito’s trademark and recipes, and wants to capture the vibe of the original restaurant.

“As we’ve seen the progression and growth, we’ve lost countless Charlotte staples that really were the heart of Charlotte,” says Cox, who has a background in commercial real estate development. He co-owns Peak Development and has an investment company, Ptah Investments.

The goal is to open in mid- to late August, Cox says. Hiring is ongoing, with open interviews scheduled at the restaurant between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on July 17. Applications are also being accepted at

The original Phat Burrito opened in July 1998. That small restaurant had no bells and whistles, just a focus on good food, Cox says.

“I don’t want to bring Phat Burrito back and change it,” Cox says. “We’re trying really hard to give people what they loved and remembered.”

Cox says he cold-called former owner Stephen Justice. It took nearly a year to hammer out a deal, with the duo working together to ensure the brand would stay true to its roots.

“Here we are bringing it back with the idea that it’s for the city and it’s for nostalgia purposes,” Cox says. “I’ve put my absolute heart into this project.”

He’s tapped Waco “Lin” Childers as general manager. Phat Burrito is working with its same food purveyor and the same consultant as before. That should help with consistency, Cox says.

A la carte burritos and tacos will again take center stage.

Options will include the bean burrito, as well as the classic, with a choice of protein including steak, chicken, fish, tofu and vegetables. There will be steak chicken and fish tacos, along with barbecue varieties, tofu and veggies. Phat Salads will be served in a crispy tortilla bowl, with a choice of toppings such as beans, rice, pico and roasted corn. “Dillas” come in a variety of options. Munchies such as chips and guacamole or salsa and loaded queso round out the menu.

“I think it’s just a stripped-down restaurant that is excited to serve good food to anyone that wants it,” Cox says.

Construction is wrapping up on that space. Expect the same flooring, steps to the counter and comic-book column. Cox is working on wall décor and other details to bring in pieces that capture Phat Burrito’s funky and quirky vibe.

“Hopefully when people walk in, they understand that it’s shinier because it’s new. But I hope they see our hard work and efforts to make it as similar as we could,” Cox says.

Cluck Design is the architect on the project. Barringer Construction is the general contractor.