Mexicali Fresh is growing all over the country and customers love it
From the moment you open the doors, it’s all go!’ That’s the experience of Dion Dragicevich and Jo McGreevy, who opened their Mexicali Fresh restaurant in Mt Maunganui at Easter this year. ‘It was a bit of a baptism of fire, but we’d had 6-8 weeks of intensive training and we had great support from the franchise with three people on hand that first week to help our staff get to grips with it all. Admittedly, we had queues out of the door at first, but now we handle similar numbers easily.’
Mexicali Fresh offers a ‘build your own’ formula which enables customers to choose a burrito, nachos or quesadilla and combine signature made-from-scratch ingredients to create authentic fresh flavours. The stylish stores are at the leading edge of the fast-casual dining revolution, combining a counter service model with a premium product. ‘There’s nothing like it round here,’ Dion says proudly. ‘We provide a relaxed family environment where you can have great food and a cold beer and everyone can chill out.’
Dion and Jo both worked in the advertising business back in Auckland, but it was word-of-mouth that brought them to Mexicali Fresh. ‘With a young daughter, we were looking for a change of lifestyle and Jo is from Tauranga so we started exploring business opportunities. A friend is a Mexicali Fresh franchisee in Auckland and he was always praising the company and its systems so we arranged an interview and went from there.
‘I’d managed a pizza outlet when I was 20 or so and had had the time of my life but I’d been sitting behind a desk doing graphic design for years so it was a steep learning curve going to run our own 90-seat restaurant,’ Dion admits. ‘But everything we were told was true – if you follow the systems and procedures then everything runs smoothly and the franchisors have been there for us 100 percent of the way. We’re on budget already and looking forward to a great summer!’
Mexicali Fresh was originally founded in Auckland in 2005 and started franchising in 2013. With 12 outlets in Auckland, it’s also finding a warm welcome in other areas including Wigram, Christchurch, where Steve Goodgame opened his franchise in August 2015.
Like Dion, Steve worked in the hospitality industry in his youth before joining the police, where he ended up as a detective in the Drug Squad. His partner, Jaime, was a specialist business banker and when the couple had a little girl earlier this year, they started to think about their work/life balance.
‘Being home owners in Auckland means you both have to work full-time,’ Steve says. ‘I grew up in Christchurch and knew it didn’t have to be like this, so we planned to sell up in a few years and move down south. Jaime mentioned this when meeting the Mexicali Fresh people one day and they told her about the site at Wigram. Jaime knew how good the franchise could be, so suddenly our 3-year plan became a 3-month one!
‘Mexicali Fresh had always appealed because we’re fitness people, and we liked their philosophy of fresh, healthy food and free range ingredients where possible. Other people obviously like it, too – people were really stoked when we opened in Wigram and we’re really very, very pleased with the way things have gone. Being a banker, Jaime set some very cautious targets for us and we’ve exceeded them comfortably from the very start. There’s a lot more to come, too.’
Get organised, enjoy life
Steve agrees with Dion that the training and support they received on opening was ‘Fantastic! The franchise team put so much effort in and were so great with our staff that it really set the tone for the business. Now I’m running the store while Jaime handles the admin and finance side. She can do that from home with our baby, so it’s worked out well.’
And he reckons his own background prepared him for life as a business owner. ‘In the police, the buck stops with you and you do a lot of problem solving. In business, even though the specific issues are very different, the mind-set is the same. Being organised and calm is what gets you through, and the Mexicali Fresh training and systems help you do exactly that. One day, we might look at opening a second store but we’re in no hurry. We’re fine-tuning our business and enjoying life!’
Achieve your potential
Mexicali Fresh is looking for enthusiastic, energetic people who are passionate about great food and excellent customer service to open further outlets around the country. Current stores range in size from 110-210 sqm, some with outdoor seating areas, and all are fully-licensed. Depending on size and location, the investment required starts from around $400,000 +gst.
‘This is a great opportunity for individual owners or couples with the ambition to own their own hospitality business based on our proven systems,’ says Nathan Bonney, the general manager of Mariposa Restaurant Holdings, the owners of Mexicali Fresh. ‘We believe in selecting great franchisees and supporting them to achieve fantastic results. To find out more, call me now.’
This advertorial is taken from Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 24 Issue 4