Written on the 18 July 2016 by James Perkins

SOMETIMES, after building a successful business and making millions, entrepreneurs will turn their thoughts to philanthropy. Zambrero founder Sam Prince took a different approach. He intertwined the commercial focus of his Mexican restaurant chain with the philanthropic goals of his social enterprise, Plate 4 Plate, right from the beginning, in 2005.

"It is our beating heart,' Prince tells Business News Australia. "Plate 4 Plate links our customers with our cause. They know that by simply purchasing their meal they are helping others in need."

Zambrero has grown to almost 150 restaurants in Australia and three overseas in the 11 years since Dr Prince founded the business and in turn, Plate 4 Plate has donated more than 9 million vitamin-fortified rice and soy meals to the disadvantaged one for every burrito or bowl purchased from the chain.

Initially, Plate 4 Plate focused on the developing world, working with distribution partner Stop Hunger Now, but Plate 4 Plate has evolved to recognise food scarcity is also a problem in Australia. It partnered with Foodbank Australia, but this time used its retail range to secure donations, with one meal provided for each Forbidden Black Rice muesli bar, or Hazillo Brownie. Since the launch of the retail range in 2015, Zambrero has provided 21,000 meals to Australians.

There is no doubt that Zambrero is currently one of Australia's best stories in franchising. It plans to add one store per week for the rest of 2016, and not just in Australia.

Zambrero has two restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand, and another in Dublin, Ireland. Ten restaurants have opened in New Zealand in 18 months.

Former Leinster Rugby Club winger Darragh Fanning has retired from the Champions Cup side to manage Ireland's first Zambrero, in Dublin, and Prince sees this as a new growth market. 'The expansion in Ireland has been incredibly successful with an additional three restaurants set to open this year,' he said.

Prince, a medical doctor, chose Bangkok because of its 'strategic value' and after spotting a gap in the market for the Zambrero brand of food. The first two restaurants there have shored up a supply chain that will be vital as the company looks to expand. He explains, 'Fundamental to Thailand's success, and further expansion in Thailand and South East Asia, was laying down an efficient infrastructure and supply chain.'

Zambrero has plans for international expansion into one more country, but it is one the Prince is not willing to reveal just yet.

Here in Australia though, it is Queensland that is the engine room of Zambrero. The company has 42 restaurants in the Sunshine State, which is 40% of the franchise group, compared to an 11% share two and a half years ago. The company's first restaurant in Queensland was on Griffith Street, Coolangatta.
Author: James Perkins Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn





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