Puerto Rican residents and companies have been moving to or opening offices in Florida. Now there’s a case of reverse expansion, as South Florida-based BurgerFi, a gourmet burger chain, is entering the Puerto Rico market.

The “fast-casual, high-quality food concept” plans to open six locations during the next five years, with the first scheduled to open in the San Juan metro area by the end of the year.

In total, the chain plans to create more than 200 jobs.

“BurgerFi will hire 15-20 people for their corporate infrastructure to assist in running the six stores. This includes marketing personnel, HR and operations. Each store will hire 25-30 employees,” said Charles Guzzetta, franchise development manager, in a statement to THE WEEKLY JOURNAL.

“As BurgerFi continues to expand, many of these positions can lead to management/leadership positions with plenty of room for growth within the company,” he said.

The company is “still negotiating sites/lease terms so all BurgerFi can say at this time is that the initial investment varies by location,” he added. According to BurgerFi’s website, the initial investment to open a franchise ranges from $670,000 to $973,000 per location.

At the heart of BurgerFi’s menu is the BurgerFi Cheeseburger, made with the top 1 percent of best-tasting certified, American Black Angus beef from ranches across the U.S. The company said BurgerFi is the only burger franchise in the industry to serve beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics. BurgerFi was one of only two brands to earn an “A” on the fourth annual Chain Reaction scorecard released by six major consumer and environmental organizations. Other menu options include vegetarian and chicken burgers, Wagyu hot dogs, hand-cut fries, onion rings, creamy shakes and custards, and craft beers.

The six Puerto Rico locations will be owned and operated by franchisee Phillip Faigenblat, an entrepreneur who owns 14 Denny’s franchises islandwide. Faigenblat identified the need for a new fast-casual restaurant chain in Puerto Rico and was drawn to BurgerFi because of its reputation for fresh, healthy, high-quality food.

“There’s a surging interest in healthy dining in Puerto Rico, as people become more conscious of what they are eating,” Faigenblat said. “Puerto Ricans are also digitally savvy and looking for alternatives to both fast food and sit-down family dining. BurgerFi’s quick-service combined with quality food that can be ordered online fits perfectly with these needs and is bound to be a hit in Puerto Rico.”

Besides its menu options, BurgerFi is also touting its eco-friendly approach to dining. The interiors of each of the six new restaurants will average 3,000 square feet and will feature various eco-friendly elements such as wood-paneled walls made from Number 2 southern pine lumber (the world’s most renewable timber), 10-foot fans that consume 88 percent less energy and 100 percent energy-efficient LED lighting.

“The outdoor seating areas, which are perfect for Puerto Rico’s warm, sunny climate, will feature picnic and four-top tables each made from over 700,000 upcycled milk jugs and industrial-style red and gray chairs, each made from 111 upcycled Coca Cola bottles,” the company said.

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