Australian Tex-Mex restaurant chain Guzman y Gomez has launched its first ever restaurant in the United States.
The Illinois store is the group's 135th restaurant globally, with the chain's footprint extending from Australia to Singapore, Japan, and now the US.
But for the founders of Guzman y Gomez, launching in the US is somewhat of a homecoming moment.
Both co-founders Steven Marks and Robert Hazan are native New Yorkers, so making the return 'home' is an exciting moment for the pair that established their Mexican restaurant in Australia.
"We both grew up in New York and it's always been our dream to bring the brand back to the US," says Marks.
"We have looked at sites all over the US for a number of years, and we were really particular about it because we knew our first restaurant in the US had to be special."
The new restaurant, located unconventionally in the suburb of Naperville, Chicago, is the next step for the growing restaurant chain.
There's certainly no shortage of Tex-Mex food in the US so the business has its work cut out for itself, but the founders hope the menu and breadth of choices will be an exciting dining experience for local residents.
"We chose Naperville because of the community," says Marks.
"We kept hearing about this city, which is ranked as one of the best places to live in the US and the moment we arrived here and saw the site, we knew this was where our first US restaurant had to be."
"We intend on opening hundreds, if not thousands of GYG locations across the US and, while this won't be our last, I want our very first in Naperville to be the one everyone knows about and visits."
Founded in 2006 in Newtown, Sydney, Marks and Hazan founded the business because they couldn't find quality Mexican food in Australia.
The company has been pushing the boundaries of what food delivery can be too, pioneering the Google Wing food delivery program in Canberra where customers can receive burritos via a drone.
"We're on a mission to change how people view fast food because it doesn't have to be bad food," says Marks.
"We've come a long way from our roots; we are known for our passion for high-quality food and incredible energy, and what's truly unique is how quickly food is prepared."
The expansion into the US has been assisted by a $44 million investment from TDM Growth Partners that Guzman y Gomez received back in 2018.
Australian companies appear to be looking toward Chicago with increased interest, with the recently announced Brisbane to Chicago direct flight operated by Qantas opening up trade opportunities for businesses.
The national carrier will fly directly from Brisbane to Chicago in partnership with American Airlines, but be warned: the flight takes more than 20 hours.
The new routes, to be operated by Qantas' Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, are expected to launch by the end of April 2020 and will add more than 170,000 seats across the Pacific each year.
Business News Australia