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WOWorks acquires two plant-forward restaurant brands

woworks brands

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., May 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — WOWorks, the holding company of better-for-you restaurant brands, Saladworks, Frutta Bowls, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh and The Simple Greek, is acquiring Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery and fast-casual restaurant brands.

These two brands share a common core DNA found across all WOWorks restaurant brands, where they not only satisfy appetites but also serve plant-forward, nutritious and flavorful food so guests can pursue their passions and live their best lives.

Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina is a Southwestern fast-casual burrito, taco, bowl and salad concept that allows guests to customize their order with their choice of proteins and toppings.

Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina serves only 100% natural meals, including hormone-free and plant-based proteins, prepared and cooked every day, as well as farm-fresh, locally sourced ingredients to suit any dietary lifestyle. Founded in 2000 and based in Athens, GA, the brand has 50 franchise-owned restaurants and four company owned locations located primarily in the Southeast.

Zoup! Eatery is a fast-casual trend-setting concept centered around offering best-in-class soups, broth bowls, salads and sandwiches. Zoup! Eatery offers 12 rotating daily soups as part of an innovative menu that offers delicious, nutrient-dense food crafted from clean label ingredients.

Founded in 1998 and based in Southfield, MI, Zoup! Eatery has 67 franchise-owned restaurants and one corporate-owned location. The brand was created with the mission to elevate the quality of soups available in restaurants and bring to life the intangible of comfort and warm often associated with soup. Zoup! is primarily located in the northern mid-central states and across the border in Ontario, Canada.

While Zoup! Eatery will join the WOWorks family of better-for-you restaurant brands, Zoup! Specialty Products, LLC, will continue to operate separately by Eric Ersher, the founder and previous CEO of Zoup! Systems, LLC. Zoup! Specialty Products are super-premium broth products created from clean ingredients that were designed to bring the brand’s restaurant quality taste to the retail market.

Previously, Ersher had overall responsibility for strategic planning, concept and product evolution, quality, and franchise support for the Zoup! brand. Before creating Zoup!, Ersher was owner of Michigan Foods, which blended and wholesaled spices and custom spice blends.

“Today, we welcome both Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery to the WOWorks family,” said Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks enterprise, fully owned by Centre Lane Partners, LLC. “These brands share our overall goal to grow into one of the largest plant-forward, good-for-you companies in the restaurant sector. Equally as important, both brands are in direct alignment with our WOWorks Vision, Mission and Shared Values (BE Passionate, BE Inventive, BE Accountable, BE Fulfilled, and BE Real). They are dedicated to fueling the passions of their team members, guests, partners and communities to give everyone the opportunity to live their best life.”

As a result of these acquisitions, WOWorks now has six brands and will end the year with well over 400 restaurants while creating over 10,000 job opportunities in the restaurant industry.

WOWorks will take over both brands’ infrastructure and operations to drive explosive growth. With shared services and plans to leverage best practices from all brands, WOWorks will continue to increase their negotiation and purchasing power; use cost efficiencies to fuel growth productivity; and improve vendor support as they grow their portfolio of better-for-you restaurants.

“In closing, we are incredibly proud of our entire WOWorks family and extremely excited to welcome Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery to our portfolio of brands. Together, we look forward to fueling the ‘Originality’ of our team members, guests, business partners and communities and giving everyone the opportunity to live their best life,” said Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks.


WOWorks was formed in 2020 with a mission to help guests pursue their passions and live their best lives by serving healthy, nutritious and flavorful meals along with its Vow to “WOW!” guest hospitality. Fully owned by Centre Lane Partners, LLC, WOWorks’ portfolio, in addition to its newest brands, Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina and Zoup! Eatery, consists of: Saladworks, the nation’s leading fast-casual salad brand; Frutta Bowls, a unique restaurant franchise serving a variety of superfood bowls, fresh fruit smoothies, protein bites and more; Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, a popular Mediterranean restaurant concept; The Simple Greek, which offers a fresh and healthy take on traditional Greek recipes in a fast-casual setting. WOWorks seeks to drive explosive growth across all of its brands through a variety of channels, both traditional and non-traditional, including ghost kitchens, food trucks, grocery retail and more.


Celebrating its 22nd year in business, Barberitos has a mission to serve others with a focus on Food, Community and People. The chain is dedicated to serving farm-fresh, high-quality food in an efficient manner. In 2017, Nation’s Restaurant News included the chain in its “Next Restaurant Brands” list. For more information about the company or franchising opportunities, please visit


Founded in 1998, Zoup! is the leading fast-casual soup concept with locally owned and operated restaurants across the United States and Canada. In 2018, Zoup! started its evolution from Zoup! Fresh Soup Company to Zoup! Eatery and expanded its menu from soups, salads and sandwiches to additional menu categories. The company continues to grow, bringing Zoup! Eatery to new markets. For more information, visit or To learn more about franchising opportunities with Zoup!, contact Richard Zimmer at or call 800-940-9687 ext. 4.