Hecho en Mexico hits 10 year milestone

Hecho Mexico 10 years
Founders Parveen Bajar (left) and Menak Grover. (Source: Supplied)

Street-style Mexican restaurant, Hecho en Mexico has just celebrated 10 years since opening its first venue in the heart of Fitzroy, Melbourne.

The growing chain unveiled its 17th restaurant in Richmond and has plans for five further sites.

Locations in Caroline Springs, Ringwood, Werribee, Melbourne CBD are in the pipeline. The chain is also planning its first interstate location in Cairns.

Founders Parveen Bajar and Menak Grover answer our Q&A.

FE: How did you fund the start-up?
“We moved in 2005 (Menak) and 2008 (Parveen) to Melbourne and instantly began working in the hospitality industry. From then we had a dream to start our own business in a bar or restaurant.

“We combined all our savings to launch this self-funded project. It was not a big investment to begin with so we took whatever funds we had and let it grow from there.”

FE: Did you always intend to franchise the business, and when did you launch the franchise model?
“It wasn’t intended to be a franchise, but it turned out to be a good idea. It was important though that in the process we didn’t lose the authenticity of the brand. We didn’t want Hecho en Mexico to become a fast-food machine.

“Our first franchise was Yarraville in 2018. The owner of this venue was a family friend who had enjoyed the service we provided from the very beginning, so he wanted to open one of his own.

“From there more people took an interest in opening more franchises around Victoria.

“We want to have owner-operated franchises, led by people with the same passion for the brand as we have.”

FE: What is distinctive about a Hecho en Mexico restaurant?
“The detail on the quality of food, the love care and effort we put towards our service, the partnerships we have with brands such as Patrón tequila which reinforces our focus on product quality. That’s what’s distinctive.

“We have a colourful, friendly and happy vibe to our interior that we try to stick to in every venue. We believe it’s definitely in a mid-range price point so diners can enjoy good food without breaking the bank.”

FE: What skills do you each bring to the business?
“Before starting Hecho en Mexico, Menak and I had been working for 10 years in quick service restaurant hospitality. I have an educational background in hospitality, and worked my first hospitality job as a dishwasher before honing my skills in back of house and front of house management.

“Menak worked as a duty manager for Spotless, which operates the QSR stores at Southern Cross Station, and was in charge of managing the daily operation of seven stores on site.

“We have a combination of front of house and back of house knowledge that we bring to the table, so we each equally know what needs to be done to run successful operations from either side.”

FE: How do you manage your joint leadership?
“After working together for 10 years, we have an understanding of our individual goals, both personal and professional. So it just is a matter of combining ideas and creating a mutually beneficial outcome.

“Menak is focused on the bar and I’m focused on the food so there is a clear difference in our passions which, when joined together, creates endless success. The key interest of course is our love for the brand and what we have created together.

“After all this time we are like family, so it makes communication amongst each other very effortless and clear.”

FE: How did you grow your franchise support team?
“We make sure that all our franchisees and the franchise support team understand the key roles and responsibilities to work on their parts, so it’s a partnership between franchise support and franchisee. We make sure to train everyone to hit the right outreach and marketing channels to guarantee a steady growth.

“Finding what we need as a brand and filling the gaps with people who are capable of filling them for us is a top priority. Each of our locations have many different demographics so reinventing the brand’s needs according to the people who frequent these venues is important too.”

FE: What has been your growth strategy over the past 10 years, and is it continuing?
“There is not a clear model that outlines the success of Hecho en Mexico, but we can attribute our success to four things: good food, good quality, hard work and the right team.

“We have a growing team of dedicated members in charge of the brand, all of whom are passionate about hospitality. All the locations can run their business with the full support of a team who have significant industry experience.

“Upgrading the system to work seamlessly with the changing times post Covid-19 has been a great way to adapt to the current challenges the hospitality industry faces.”

FE: What is your five-year goal?
“Expanding to each state of Australia is a definite goal, followed by expansion to New Zealand. We also aim to launch in the southeast Asian market.

“Creating more brand awareness throughout Australia to increase popularity for our brand is where our focus lies.”

FE: Why choose Cairns for the first interstate site?

“Firstly, the Great Barrier Reef is a very well known UNESCO world heritage site, attracting tourists from around the world which is a great way to help get our name out on a global scale.

“Secondly, Cairns is chilled and relaxed, so we believe the residents and tourists will appreciate our brand in Cairns. The weather is an added bonus too, so we can promote year round cocktail sipping without worrying about weather restrictions.”