One to Watch – El Mexicana
First opening their doors in 2011, El Mexicana has grown rapidly to become one of the biggest and most popular retailers of Mexican food in the UK. With 21 restaurants across the country in prestigious retail locations including; shopping malls, city centres and motorway service areas, the company’s winning mix of fresh, modern Mexican food and great value for money has been a real hit with customers.
With a mission to bring their customer’s excellent quality authentic Mexican street food, El Mexicana’s menu of fully customisable food has ensured their place on the UK’s high-street and have even announced exciting plans to launch a brand new casual dining concept later this year.
Cocina will incorporate El Mexicana’s renowned Mexican street food into a relaxed dine in experience, their latest franchise will open in Swansea creating 20 jobs and will offer a tequila bar as well as a reward app for loyal customers. There are plans for five Cocina’s this year alone with two locations planned in Norwich, one in Milton Keynes and another in Telford.
We spoke to El Mexicana’s Marketing and Media Manager Sue Kelly to find out more about El Mexicana and its sister brand Cocina, why they chose franchising, how the industry is performing and what they have planned for the future…….
What makes El Mexicana stand out?
We offer customers a healthy alternative to traditional fast foods such as burgers etc. Our food can be customized to meet the customer’s exact requirements; so you can choose your own fillings, toppings and even what level of heat you want. We make your meal your way.
The growth in both the casual dining and Mexican food sectors shows no sign of slowing down. Customers are continuing to experiment with new and varied cuisines and are becoming more adventurous with their tastes. Over recent years eating out has become more of the norm rather than a treat. El Mexicana and Cocina both meet these needs for customers perfectly.
Tell us more about Cocina….
Cocina is the big sister to El Mexicana. While El Mexicana focuses more on offering customers a quick Mexican bite to eat, Cocina will offer the opportunity to linger slightly longer over your meal.
As demand for Mexican food keeps growing and growing we realised people don’t just want to grab a burrito on the run, they also want to take the time to enjoy the experience and learn more about this exciting, vibrant cuisine. This led to a lightbulb moment from Brand Owner John Coverley! He would expand the existing El Mexicana offering, to include a casual dining format, where friends can relax, socialise and savour their Mexican experience.
We’ve already had great interest with Cocina, the first site is due to go live at the end of September, with four more stores due to open before the end of this year (two in Norwich, one in Milton Keynes and one in Telford)
What inspired El Mexicana to franchise?
The brand owner John Coverley has a background in the retail sector spanning 30 years. He previously owned franchised Sandwich chain Nosh, when he spotted a gap in the market for quick service Mexican food outlets and El Mexicana was born.
John wanted to provide a healthier alternative to some of the other fast food restaurants available. The key to our food is providing quick service, without compromising on quality or nutritional value.
We find that individual business owners have an added drive to succeed when they are running their own business. Combining this with our successful business model means we can ensure a real success story.
How would you describe the market in terms of demand competition and growth?
Whilst there have been new competitors emerging over the last 12-18 months, this has only served to increase the public’s appetite for Mexican food. Now more than ever the public enjoy experimenting with different cuisines and when they dine out they want to try something they wouldn’t necessarily try at home.
As a franchise model we stand out as we offer franchisees a turnkey, stress-free package including help locating and developing a site, full shop fit, ongoing operational and marketing support and training.
We have a simple operating framework and an affordable entry cost. These elements are extremely important to potential franchise owners.
What are the advantages of franchising with El Mexicana or your new brand Cocina?
You will be joining a team with considerably experience within the sector. Not just from the everyday running of a franchise but within all aspects of opening and successfully running a business; from property sourcing, shop fit and ongoing support.
What does the future hold for the El Mexicana and Cocina brands?
We have big plans for the rest of 2017! There are already talks happening to secure more El Mexicana sites which will take the franchise to new areas of the country.
We also have our hands full launching the new Cocina branch of the brand, which as mentioned above will have 5 sites live before the end of this year alone.
Tuesday, 12th September, 2017