What is La Bamba?
La Bamba Mexican Restaurants Group is a chain of 20+ concept-based Mexican “fast casual” restaurants serving both college towns and big cities, primarily in the Midwest. With a catchy “Burritos as big as your head” slogan, La Bamba features cooked-to-order Mexican meals in the $6-$7 range as well as a selection of Value Meals. The food is delicious and truly authentic Mexican, the portions are large and the service is quick. Our restaurants are all decorated with a bright, Mexican theme in red, white and green that helps to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurants begin serving lunch at 11:00 a.m. and stay open late at night to cater to the “after bar-closing” crowd.
How It All Began
Brothers Ramiro and Antonio Aguas often traveled from Chicago to Champaign to visit friends, but became frustrated with the lack of good Mexican restaurants in the area. They thought about opening a restaurant themselves when they realized there was a huge late-night crowd of potential customers without any place to get authentic Mexican burritos, tacos and tortas. So, in 1987, they opened their first La Bamba store with two tables, eight stools and 900 total square feet of space adjacent to the University of Illinois campus.
Word quickly spread and soon the restaurant had lines of patrons forming in the streets to get inside for a taste of the authentic Mexican food. One customer proclaimed that La Bamba burritos were as big as her head, and so the restaurant’s “Burrito’s as big as your head” slogan was born. Within six months, the original La Bamba was expanded to 3,000 square feet and the Aguas brothers realized they had a huge hit on their hands.
In 1989, the second La Bamba was opened in West Lafayette, IN near Purdue University. Additional La Bamba’s were soon opened near other college campuses in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin. The focus of the chain during this period was college students, campus towns and late night fun. Each college-oriented store still boasts a custom-painted mural with the Company’s “Burrito Man” sporting the town’s university logo in an athletic setting. This trademarked “Burrito Man” boasts that La Bamba’s food is “Hard to handle, but easy to love.”
Members of the Aguas family participate in running many of La Bamba’s 16+ current locations. The chain is not franchised. While the La Bamba restaurants originally targeted college students in college towns, today there is a new emphasis on opening restaurants in big cities, not necessarily college towns. That is because many of La Bamba’s loyal patrons still crave La Bamba food in their post-collegiate lives.