FORMER real estate financier Jordan Birchall (pictured) went out on a limb to start Tuckeria restaurant in Fortitude Valley.
Birchall was working as a real estate financier in the US when the GFC struck.
“The real estate market really started slowing down which made me think I should be doing something else. I was interested in Mexican food and had travelled around San Francisco getting recipes and inspiration,” he says.
“I put together a business plan of what I wanted to do in Brisbane when I returned and I probably broke all the rules because I didn’t seek any outside advice on the business plan, I just knew it would work and fortunately it has.”
The entrepreneur started the Mexican taco store with $150,000 of his own savings and winged it when it came to market research.
“Before I moved to the States, I was fortunate enough to work through the property boom in Australia. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, so instead of buying fast cars I saved instead,” he says.
“Starting the business with my own capital also meant I didn’t need to get anyone to check over my business plan because I wasn’t seeking any outside funding.”
He says one of the biggest challenges was finding the right location.
“When I moved back from San Francisco in 2009, I had an idea of where I wanted the restaurant to be located – I wanted it to be close to a young demographic that was open to new things,” he says.
“It took me a long time to find the right space – I turned a lot of spaces down in the interim because location is so important to the success of a business – my real estate background taught me that.
“The hardest part of the whole process was getting it all together and the first year of operation was difficult because you have to build the right team of chefs, managers and staff and it was tiring.
The restaurateur’s first day on the job was also his first role in the hospitality industry.
“I’d never worked in hospitality in my life and it was a shock, but having said that it was enjoyable at the same time and we’ve managed to improve our operation, turnover and customer satisfaction has been good,” he says.
The business is now in a position to expand, although Birchall is keen to point out the focus is on ‘growing smart’.
“We’re looking to expand into areas where people will respond to our style of service and we will expand as a company owned group of stores before considering franchising,” he says.
“I’m always mindful that we have to grow, but we’re a small company so we don’t want to grow just for the sake of it. The formula in the restaurant is working really well right now and we want to be careful of that.
“There’s always risk in growth but our cuisine is what we want it to be, our customer service level is high, we look after our internal team and everything else falls into place as a result, so we’re focusing on growing smartly.”
He says the ‘clean, crisp taste’ of Californian Mexican food with a local twist has seen customers coming back for more.
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALIST
Business Est: 2010
Growth: 25 per cent
Turnover: $1 million
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