last updated 11/12/2019
The Mexico Way
last updated 11/12/2019
Mexico is now franchising, and one of the first franchisees knows exactly why it’s so good
Mexico has built a loyal following for its bright, vibrant restaurants and quality Mexican-inspired street food. The brand’s strong sense of identity attracted Peter Jackson six years ago when he started as a kitchen operations manager. Now the company’s Executive Chef, Peter loves Mexico so much that when it started franchising, he and his partner Annelise were among the first in line. They opened their restaurant in Silverdale, on the Hibiscus Coast, five months ago.
‘I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 25 years, and Mexico is the third company I’ve worked for, but this is the first time I’ve bought a restaurant,’ Peter says. ‘I know just how good Mexico is, so what better way to show my confidence than by buying one?
‘What I love about Mexico is that it was never ‘just a restaurant’ – it always had the vision to be something more and has the ability to shake things up sometimes to avoid getting stale. It’s changed a lot since the beginning, but we’re still the fresh and fun brand everyone loves. There’s a real shift in hospitality – people want more choices, so our menu is diverse with small, large and shared plates to choose from. We currently have eight dedicated vegan dishes and plenty of options to suit all customers’ preferences.’
More than the menu
As well as being Executive Chef, Peter recognises that a meal is as much about the experience as it is about the food. That’s something that Mexico embedded in its business model from the opening of its very first restaurant back in 2012, and it’s made the brand a market leader not just in the huge Mexican food category but in the hospitality industry as a whole.
‘How are you responding to customers, what are they looking at, how are they interacting with the menu? All these things matter,’ says Peter. ‘We brought in placemat menus; that was new at the time. Now everyone’s doing placemats so we’ve moved to a booklet. We’re also making our own sodas as well as hot sauces – why not?’
With a seasonal menu that changes every three months, owning the Silverdale restaurant allows Peter to see first-hand how customers read and relate to the menu in order to build the next one. And having an Executive Chef who is acutely aware of the bottom line is a big benefit for other franchisees, too.
Family business, local business
Peter and Annelise worked together before settling in Auckland. Annelise had been a duty manager at Mexico in Christchurch and Wellington, having met Peter during a previous café job. ‘It’s a good thing I like coffee, because I was drinking an awful lot of it to see her,’ Peter laughs. ‘With me in the kitchen and Annelise out front, going into business together was easy. Managing it around two young children is more of a challenge, but we worked it out.
‘We set aside one day a week where we’re all together. It used to be Sunday, but we quickly realized that’s Mexico’s family day too, so we should really be there; family people looking after family people. Now, Saturday is our own family day. We pick a restaurant and take Harper (4) and Charlie (6 months) out for dinner every week.
‘The Coast is very much a community,’ Peter says. ‘We try to value what we have around us – including other local businesses. It’s important for us to make a contribution to the people that make it possible for us to be here. We sponsor the local surf club because if my kids or anyone else found themselves in trouble, I would want to know they’re there. The Hospice, too – they go above and beyond looking after people that mean everything to us, so we need to help look after them.’
Popular all over
With over 100,000 people following them on social media and 15,000 customers every week, Mexico has a loyal customer base. There are now 12 restaurants around the country, proving that the brand is as popular in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch as it is in Auckland. That means opportunities all around the country for new franchisees to benefit from Mexico’s popularity and use its well-proven business systems.
Having recently become part of the Café Brands group, Mexico’s sister company is multiple award-winning Columbus Coffee, so franchisees can also look forward to highly professional levels of support and considerable buying power.
‘Mexico delivers equally well for family groups, date nights, events and corporate groups, so there’s something for everyone,’ says marketing manager Sarah Page, one of the long-standing team behind the company’s success. ‘Everything at Mexico has been well priced, and strong profitability is built-in, enabling franchisees to operate successfully month-on-month regardless of season and cost of produce.
‘With Café Brands now at the helm, we can introduce new people in different regions to the Mexico experience. If you are passionate about hospitality, please talk to us about opening a Mexico in your town.’
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