Lerner Alum Turns School Project into Successful Franchise
Paul Altero is the founder of a successful business, Bubbakoo’s Burritos, which is now franchising. His story begins in 1990, when Ron Cole, a professor of hotel, restaurant, and institutional management (HRIM) at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business, assigned him to create a mock business plan.
When Altero was a UD student, there were no burrito restaurants near the campus. Now, there are three burrito restaurants on Main Street, the main thoroughfare for restaurants and stores serving University of Delaware students. Altero’s idea was ahead of its time.
Altero’s idea from his days at UD stuck with him, and he opened the first Bubbakoo’s Burritos location in 2008, more than 10 years after working on the project.
In addition to the idea, UD provided Altero with his mentor Francis Kwansa, an associate professor and the associate chair of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management. “Dr. Kwansa saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” said Altero. “He gave me all the confidence in the world and let me know that I could be more than who I was. He’s extremely pivotal in my life and I owe a lot to him.”
“Dr. Kwansa always has a very simple question: ‘Why can’t you do it?’” continued Altero. “It’s really hard to answer a question like that.”
Soon after opening its doors at the first location, Bubbakoo’s expanded to four more locations. Today, there are eight Bubbakoo’s restaurants in New Jersey.
Altero has returned to UD several times to offer advice for current students. He advises students not to shy away from entry level jobs, to stay in touch with the people they meet at UD, and to work hard in college. However, his most important piece of advice is more personal: “If you try to be a different person, it’s not going to work. Be yourself.”