Fast, Fresh & On-Trend

Mexicali Fresh is the stand-out opportunity among quick service restaurants

The fastest-growing food trend in New Zealand today is Mexican, and the fastest-growing category is the gap between fast food and formal dining called QSR – quick service restaurants. 

For Nick and Leanne Murphy, the fact that Mexicali Fresh combines both was a strong attraction to the franchise. ‘We knew the brand very well as we regularly used to eat there,’ says Leanne. ‘It may have taken us nearly three years to come on board, but once we signed up just before Christmas 2014, we were in business in only three months.’ 

Between them, Leanne and Nick have 55 years’ combined experience in corporate sales and marketing. ‘Nick was mostly connected with livestock, whilst I was with a number of different multi-nationals,’ says Leanne. ‘So we knew a lot about business but almost nothing about hospitality. But we did like what Mexicali Fresh stands for – dedicated to making a better world with fresh, healthy, sustainable food.’ 

Now that’s even more the case because, as co-founder Tyler Kerlin says, ‘We’ve finally cracked it! As of December this year, all Mexicali Fresh outlets will be serving free-range chicken, pork and organic beef. 

‘Ever since we opened our first store at Princes Wharf in 2005 this has been our dream but there were so many barriers to continuity of supply and cost. However, with over 20 stores established around New Zealand we have solved the problems. It’s part of the Mexicali Fresh culture that our packaging is sustainable and everything is sourced as locally as possible – now our food is sustainable and free-range, too. This is an exciting move for us and we believe anyone considering a franchise in the food business will see that we’re the hottest thing in the hottest part of the market.’ 

proven processes make fresh food easy

Leanne says that Mexicali Fresh is a great example of the difference between a centrally-supplied chain and a restaurant doing everything in-house. ‘Many people don’t realise that at Mexicali Fresh we live up to our name by preparing fresh food in-store every day. The best example is our salsa – we make it from tomatoes, onions and other ingredients all picked as recently as feasible. It’s a major factor in creating the amazing flavours that keep our customers coming back again and again. Mexicali Fresh is all about the food and the model, and fresh is most certainly best.’ 

Since opening their store in Botany, East Auckland, Leanne and Nick have been impressed not just with the product but with the thought that has gone into every aspect of the Mexicali Fresh operation. ‘It’s so jam-packed with proven processes that we don’t even need to employ chefs,’ says Leanne. ‘Everything is in the standard operating systems (SOPs) and it is all incredibly simple to follow. In keeping with the company philosophy waste has been reduced to a minimum – we sometimes think we have none – and all our staff are trained at head office before they come to us. Compared with corporate life, this is not a stressful operation!’ 

So what are the keys to being a successful Mexicali Fresh franchisee? ‘Number one is looking after your customers,’ says Leanne. ‘Nick and I take a keen interest in hospitality outlets and you quickly develop an eye for what works. It’s all down to the presentation, how customers are greeted, how clean the toilets are: all basic stuff, but it is so important. As you might imagine, it’s all covered in the SOPs so all our team know what’s expected all the time. That’s why we chose the Mexicali Fresh franchise – their philosophy aligns with ours!’ 

building on excellence

Mexicali Fresh is looking for enthusiastic, energetic people who are passionate about great food and customer service to open further outlets around the country. ‘This is a proven system which represents a great opportunity for ambitious owners to get into their own hospitality business,’ says Tyler. ‘The investment required is around $400,000 +gst. 

‘We believe in selecting great franchisees and supporting them throughout their journey. Mexicali Fresh has grown fast and now we’re improving on what we already do well with initiatives such as organic and free-range ingredients. We want new franchisees who can share that culture and build on it to create a unique and successful business in their own towns.’ 

Leanne says, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Mexicali Fresh has been very successful for us, despite our lack of experience. We know one franchisee who has four stores and is looking for another, and in time we may consider more, too.’ 

Tyler says that multi-store ownership is certainly a strong possibility, ‘But we don’t want just investors; we want people who will live and breathe the business. Experience in food or hospitality is not a necessity. 

‘Leanne and Nick have made a roaring success of their own business by combining our system with passion. If you think you can do the same and want to be part of a fast, fresh and on-trend brand, give Mexicali Fresh a call today.’  

Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 25 Issue 4

Luc Identity