It costs chefs up to $240,000 to open Mexican restaurants

With steak tacos, cochinita pibil and chicken tinga, as well as ribs in green sauce, Soledad Ornelas opened her first Mexican food restaurant abroad four years ago in Madrid, Spain.

His goal was clear: bring the flavors of the country to European palates. To fulfill his dream, Ornelas invested a capital close to 200 thousand dollars, with which, in addition to allowing him to prepare food in the establishment, he was able to start selling vacuum-packed products, such as sauces, tortillas, and everything necessary to make a taquiza at home.

He considered the old continent as an ideal place to open a similar business, due to the emblematic characteristics of Mexican food and popularity in this region, but taxes, permits, and compliance with health regulations, as well as obtaining the necessary ingredients, were major obstacles.

“If you want to open a taqueria, it will be impossible for it to be the same as in Mexico, because you need certain devices in your kitchen that you cannot imagine are so expensive, such as timers that make your food change from one temperature to another, special ovens, It is a series of requirements that are raising costs, not counting the expensive taxes,” he asserted.

To start a restaurant, “fondita” or “changarro” of food in the eurozone estimates that the expense could range between 80 thousand and 220 thousand dollars.

culinary voyages

In 2007, the American writer David Lida traveled to Poland in order to see the place where his mother was born. The narrator recounts in his work The fantasy of Mexican food that one of the things that most amazed him on his journey was meeting a lots of Mexican food restaurants, mainly in Krakow. But today it extends even to Zambia, Arabia or Japan.

The truth is that, he mentions, as happened in the North American market, the Mexican food went from filmic imaginary to reality in remote and unimaginable places even for the population of that country.

Although the popularity of national preparations began in colonial timesIn recent years, it has made its way among chefs and diners who, in a kind of supply and demand, have spread their culture and ways of doing business.

But the path for gastronomic representatives is not easy, since opening a restaurant outside of Mexico results in a series of procedures and adaptations that are practically a culinary odyssey.

Ricardo Quiroz is another Mexican who decided to leave the borders. Although he had been working in the United States since 2017, he lost his job due to the economic impacts of the pandemic and decided to start a business. Today, she runs a bakery, primarily focused on shells, in Miami.

Quiroz is part of Cooks MX around the World, a network present in more than 100 countries through more than 609 expatriate Mexicans who refuse to abandon the traditional gastronomy of their country of origin.

A world of paperwork

Opening a restaurant in markets like Spain contemplates municipal taxes which, depending on the town hall, could consult the preparation of a technical project, application or the building and opening license certificate, as well as a permit for the use of public roads, in the event that the location includes a terrace.

The market also requests requirements such as a certificate for food handlinghealth authorization, registration in the business registry and for local activities of the department of industry and commerce, in addition to civil liability insurance.

Inside the building, it is necessary to use food processors, refrigerators and other low-noise appliances, for which there are specific technical regulations.

The requirements are different from what is required in Mexico to set up a taqueriathat for its formal implementation requires registering with the Treasury, having a land permit for commercial use, an opening declaration, a sanitary license, as well as a permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages or advertisements abroad, if applicable.

The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) indicates that in the country there are 122 thousand 757 businesses dedicated to selling tacos and cakesalthough the majority is not within the formality.

Data from the network Cooks MX around the World indicate that for open a Mexican food business in the United States or Canada the investment ranges between 70,000 to 200,000 dollars, countries that have the advantage of greater accessibility of ingredients, but fairly complicated procedures; only the United States is the country with more businesses of this type.

For the Central American region, the Ease of obtaining ingredients for the dishes is the main point in favorpanorama that for South America becomes a little more complicated. Both zones require an initial investment of between 30,000 and 100,000 dollars.

Juan Eduardo Barrera from Monterrey decided to venture into other latitudes, because through a taqueria, he conquers palates in Dongguan, China. Fernando Quiroz, another Mexican who decided to emigrate to that Asian nation, has a central kitchen of Mexican products for small restaurants that want to sell dishes such as carnitas or guacamole. Soledad Ornelas joins the list, with a restaurant in Dubai.

The CConditions to start one of these businesses in each continent and country are different. In Asia, countries such as China, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are the nations where a greater investment is required to open a food business, however, they are also nations with a high demand for Mexican preparations.

For the import of ingredients, China and Japan appear as those with the highest pricesand in the United Arab Emirates there is greater accessibility. In addition to this, Ornelas considered Dubai as “the country of opportunities” for this type of investment, as it has a low tax burden. The estimated investment for the continent ranges between 70 and 300 thousand dollars.

a cue of gold

Soledad Ornelas is CEO of MX cooks around the world, firm that organizes the Taco de Oro awardsthat will be held on April 6 in Dubai and that seeks to reward traditional Mexican food from anywhere in the world, due to the greater popularity of national cuisine.

Ornelas is currently evaluating the possibility of opening a new establishment in South Africa, a region where it is considered that the initial investment could be between 30,000 and 120,000 dollars, where, although it is cheaper, there is difficulty importing ingredients and when carry out procedures to undertake.

With birria in Belarus and Jalisco-style tamales in Alaska, the Mexican food goes around the world and now it is exalting its presence. Just as the conditions, advantages and challenges for each country and continent vary, where, in addition to taxes and health regulations, the complications of obtaining fresh ingredients, such as chili peppers, stand out.

The information from Cocineros MX por el Mundo indicates that most of the ventures of these businesses are made with their own capital, however, once the business has started, a large part looks for new investors and they are successfully achieved.

overall potential

“In Europe costs go up a lot and it can be super variable, but you don’t open a small restaurant with less than 80 thousand euros, besides; rents are high and labor is more expensive. In contrast, in places like Dubai, taxes are low or non-existent for those just starting out. It is a beautiful country to undertake and has certain requirements that have to be met. For a Mexican to arrive and see that you have to comply with so many things and it is so expensive, you have to get Mexican ingredients, which is a recurring expense and you have to import them,” Ornelas said.

Although the road is long, the business, they say, is still attractive. Last year Taste Atlas published a list of the 100 most famous dishes in the world, in which 10 were Mexican: tacos, tortillas, nachos, burritos, tamales, quesadillas, guacamole, mole, barbecue and cakes represented the national stews.

Statista points out that in the United States the penetration of Mexican gastronomy is around 86 percent; in the Philippines, 85 percent; Norway, 84 percent; while in countries like Thailand and Japan it is more than 50 percent.

In Europe, Mexican cuisine became popular mainly in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, where finding supplies and machinery is easier; however, the procedures and procedures linked to strict guidelines and high taxes means that the implementation amount for entrepreneurs is between 80 and 220 thousand dollars.

The Mexican chef maintained that one of the major issues facing the sector outside the country continues to be the importation of some inputs, although in recent years some farmers from countries such as France have begun to plant nopales, corn, chili, tomatillos and other fruits and vegetables to distribute in the European market, which helps the industry.

Mexican consumption is normalizing so much, to the point that there is need and demand for that market.

The restaurant union grew a lot in the last three years and that is expanding and looking for an opportunity abroad is an option that many Mexicans can feel as a hope for a better life.

“10 years ago you couldn’t find anything in European supermarkets and every time you find more offer”, he concluded.