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Another Mexican food franchise arrives – but this one’s aimed at uni students

Michelle Hammond /

Another Mexican food franchise will attempt to carve a slice of an increasingly crowded market, but has created a point of difference for itself by opening some of its stores in universities.

 

Zambrero, based in Kingsgrove in NSW, was founded by Dr Sam Prince, who became enthralled with Mexican food as a cash-strapped medical student.

 

Prince set up Zambrero in 2005, opening his first two stores in Canberra. Seven years on, the company has 22 stores, scattered across the country.

 

In addition to food courts, Zambrero has made a point of establishing a presence in universities.

 

Zambrero operates a venue at the Australian National University in Canberra, while another venue is situated near Queensland University of Technology.

 

According to Zambrero chief executive Stuart Cook, the move into universities happened after he and Price were lecturing at ANU, and could see the demand for quality food offerings.

 

“We saw it as a natural fit. We’re not solely targeting universities but university students love the socially responsible aspect of our food,” Cook says.

 

Zambrero has launched a number of campaigns designed to improve the lives of people here and overseas.

 

Now the franchise has set its sights on Victoria. On September 13, it will open a venue at a Melbourne Institute of Technology campus, which will be run by Melbournian Sam Khosravi.

 

Late next month, it intends to open a second Melbourne venue on Chapel Street, which enjoys a high level of foot traffic.

 

Zambrero wants to grow its network to 30 stores within the next 12 months. By the end of 2014, it is aiming to have 100 venues.

 

It will have to work hard to win the hearts of consumers, who are now spoilt for choice when it comes to Mexican food options.

 

There is an increasingly long list of Mexican food franchises, including Las Olas Fresh Mex Grill, Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill, Guzman Y Gomez and Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill.

 

However, Zambrero’s target market is the 18-25 age bracket, so its growing presence in universities suggests it is well placed to build a strong following of its preferred customers.

 

Zambrero has every intention of opening more university venues. Cook says he’s not concerned by the competition his company is up against.

 

“There is a number of other competitors but it’s a new segment,” he says.

 

“Australians have been familiar with Mexican products – taking them home from the supermarket and making their own burritos – but there’s never been a QSR offering… There is room for competition.”

 

“The more successful they’re doing, the more successful we’re doing. At the end of the day, the consumer will know what they like and keep going back to that place.”

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