4. Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill
Founders: Clovis Young and Angela Young
Revenue: $5.39 million
Head Office: New South Wales
Industry: Hospitality & tourism
Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill was technically created in 2007, but co-founder Clovis Young cites the 1970s as the true genesis of the business.
Young grew up in southern California, where he fell in love with Mexican food, He would often take the trip to San Diego for a carne asada and guacamole burrito or go to San Francisco for tacos.
After toying with the idea of opening a Mexican restaurant in Boston in 1996 he decided, instead, to embark upon a career on Wall Street. However, after completing business school, he realised his true passion was in Mexican food.
Citing the “cheesy and greasy” Mexican food in Australia, Young says that the market was ripe for a fresh, healthy Baja-style Mexican food and decided to deliver it.
Clovis and his wife Angela sold their Florida home after spending a year planning the business and moved to Sydney to start the venture, with the first restaurant opening in Darlinghurst in November 2007.
The couple claim several innovations in bringing Mad Mex to life. The restaurant, they say, was one of the first to offer ‘fast casual’ food – quality produce, quickly delivered. The menu of burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas was chef-designed and customisable by customers.
To help underline the healthy nature of the food, the Youngs introduced an online nutritional calculator to allow customers to check on the nutritional value of each meal. The calculator is now also available on smartphones.
Clovis admits that there were pros and cons going into the restaurant trade with no prior experience of the sector. He initially struggled to find the right partners, hiring and firing three graphic design firms until he found the right one.
But he claims that the lack of industry background also allowed the couple to work towards a vision that wasn’t tied to any pre-conception.
With nine stores across Australia and revenue more than $5 million, Clovis is thankful that he ditched the Wall Street career, saying: “The best part of starting a business is working with many different people and the constant change and variety every day.”
“As a Wall Street trader my day was routine and often quite dull. At Mad Mex there is never a dull moment. In a given day we will be reviewing strategy, meeting with marketing and PR consultants, looking for new sites, designing new restaurants, working on recipes, meeting franchisees, developing staff and training.”
“When I moved to Australia I had four contacts in my phone and now there are hundreds of people that I have the pleasure of working with.”