The trouble a “B” can be

John Frank honestly didn’t think it would cause much of a stink when he reopened the Skyland Crest shopping-center location formerly housed by Rio Burrito. After purchasing the property, he decided to save some bucks by adding the letter “B” to the existing sign and dubbing the new business Brio Burrito.

Name that burrito joint: John Frank turned Rio Burrito into Brio Burrito — but now he’s letting the public christen the eatery. Photo By Jon Elliston

But loyalists to the former restaurant, which was owned by Tom Kearns, rebelled. There were news stories followed by critical online comments, and all of a sudden, Frank found himself in a burrito imbroglio.

The former hot-dog vendor says he was surprised by the reaction and denies he was trying to get a boost at the previous business’ expense.

“That was not my intention at all,” he told Xpress at the end of a recent lunch rush.

And to prove it, Frank is punting the name and allowing local residents to provide and select a new moniker. He’s set up a MySpace account to accept submissions, and every person who suggests a name gets a certificate for a free burrito. Out of that pile of suggestions, “a selection of local dignitaries” will pick five and allow Asheville to vote for its favorite online, Frank says. Whichever wins will be the new name, and whoever submitted the entry will win a $300 gift certificate from the restaurant.

“By the end of February, we will have a new name,” Frank pledges.

Even with the media attention he’s garnered, Frank is surprised at the action the MySpace page generated. The morning after activating the account, he said, 26 submissions had been entered.

“I was amazed at how much effort some of the people put into it,” he said. Some folks supplied multiple suggestions and even provided the reasons for their choice. The submission “El Cheap-o Burrito,” for instance, was a send-up on Frank’s attempt to save money on the sign in the first place. Another was directed at those who made a big deal out of the name in the first place. That suggestion? “F-U Burrito.”

In the meantime, Frank, whose own name might as well be a description of his speaking style, continues to make burritos and wait to see what comes from the big naming experiment. “I can’t think of a better way to prove the point that I don’t give a shit what the name is than not to name it myself,” he says.

To participate in the Brio Burrito renaming competition, visit www.myspace.com/brioburrito, or drop by with your suggestion. The restaurant is located in the Skyland Crest Shopping Center, 1950 Hendersonville Road (687-0101). Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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