Willy’s Mexicana Grill was created out of the owner’s love for California-style burritos. Customers loved them, too, and the chain has grown to 12 locations. Two more restaurants will open soon…

The business, with headquarters at 5600 Roswell Road, was created by Willy Bitter, who co-owns it with Keith Norris.

“I lived in San Francisco, and they had great burritos,” Bitter said. “I got addicted to them, so when I couldn’t find here what I wanted, I opened my own.”

Bitter said his California-style burritos weigh more than a pound, with rice, beans, meat or marinated tofu, cheese, fresh salsa, sour cream and lettuce rolled up in a 12-inch tortilla shell.

Willy’s locations include Midtown, Buckhead, Vinings, Peachtree Center, Norcross, Marietta, Decatur and the Mall of Georgia. Stores will open soon near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and on Barrett Parkway in Cobb County.

Menu items include burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, and rice and beans with no animal products.

Bitter, an Asheville, N.C., native, said he has a passion for Mexican food and has taken cooking classes in Mexico. “We try to bring the real, authentic product,” he said. “We buy produce fresh daily, make everything for that day, and run out and do it all over again the next day.”

Bitter said when he opened the first Willy’s at 4377 Roswell Road, there were only about three other independent burrito restaurants in metro Atlanta. After three years, he opened the Vinings location.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve been fortunate,” he said. “We’re a locally owned chain, and I’m out in the restaurants all the time, tasting the food and making sure everything is good.”

Vegetarian and children’s menus are available. “We also offer burritos in a bowl with no carbs,” he said. “We make everything in front of you, so you can customize your order.”

Catering for large groups and corporate affairs is available, as are corporate deliveries downtown.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily at most locations. The Peachtree Center location serves breakfast burritos 7:30-10:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The Web site, which includes all locations and phone numbers, is www.willys.com.