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Entrepreneur Tim Wood buys into Mexicali Fresh

Media Release
11 September 2012

Entrepreneur Tim Wood buys into Mexicali Fresh

ihug co-founder and entrepreneur Tim Wood has acquired a stake in family-owned New Zealand restaurant group Mexicali Fresh. The Buell/Kerlin family who founded Mexicali Fresh in 2005 retains the majority shareholding in the business.

The California-style Mexican fast casual restaurant concept currently has four stores in Auckland and plans for further expansion over the coming months.

Wood is no stranger to the restaurant trade, having owned the European Restaurant on Auckland’s Queen Street and student bar The Pelican on Elliot Street prior to setting up ihug. He was immediately attracted to the Mexicali Fresh proposition and is looking forward to the challenge of helping to grow the business into New Zealand’s number one Mexican fast casual restaurant brand.

Wood first encountered Mexicali Fresh a few years ago when he popped in with a friend and ordered the chicken taco salad, of which he says he’s “absolutely addicted”.

“I love the whole concept – the fresh, high quality produce, the great flavours and the chilled atmosphere. If you’re in a hurry you can have a fresh burrito in your hands in minutes, or you can take a bit longer and chill out and sink a few Mexican beers with your mates,” he says.

“Fast casual food with a Mexican twist is such a great model – kids hungry after soccer, girls out for frozen margaritas or office workers wanting a quick and tasty lunch. It’s a fantastic product that has huge expansion potential with a little help around growth and delivery strategies. I was naturally keen to partner with the family to take Mexicali Fresh to the next level.”

Tim Wood founded ihug in 1994 with his brother Nick and it became New Zealand’s third largest ISP before being sold to in 2003 for $82 million. Wood is currently involved in a number of business projects in India.

Mexicali Fresh founder and director, John Buell has over 35 years’ experience in the restaurant business having run many successful restaurants in California, Nevada and Oregon before moving to New Zealand in 2005, says Tim completes the team.

“With his wealth of experience, energy and business acumen, Tim brings a lot to the table,” says John. “Our sons, Tyler and Conor Kerlin, run the Mexicali Fresh business and have both worked in our restaurants since they were tall enough to reach the dish sink. As we move into a new phase of expansion it’s incredibly helpful for us to have a New Zealand partner of Tim’s stature to help us drive the business forward.”

Mexicali Fresh currently has four locations in Auckland – Quay Street, Princes Wharf; Nuffield Street Newmarket and Botany Town Centre, with a fourth restaurant having just opened in the Ironbank building on Karangahape Road.
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The Mexicali Fresh Story

Mexicali Fresh CEO Cindy Buell and her husband John have been running the hottest Mexican restaurants in the States since 1979. In 2005 they moved to New Zealand with their two sons Conor and Tyler Kerlin, who are the driving force behind the California-style Mexicali Fresh brand in New Zealand.

The family opened the first Mexicali Fresh store at Princes Wharf in Auckland a month after arriving and have been chipping away at popularising Mexican food in New Zealand ever since. The second Mexicali Fresh store launched on Nuffield Street in Newmarket in 2006, the third at Botany Town Centre in 2010 and fourth on K’Rd in September 2012 with plans for further expansion in the near future.

The philosophy behind Mexicali Fresh is to deliver the freshest, best and most exciting food to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced lifestyle, while staying true to the food. Which is why theirs is the best Mexican you’ll find anywhere.

The wisdom and experience of 35 years in the restaurant business means the team behind Mexicali Fresh know the importance of consistency, quality, cleanliness and service. Salads and salsas are chopped and meats grilled and roasted and margaritas are mixed daily to give the freshest, most flavoursome meal you can get. While the great tunes, surf videos and selection of Mexican tequila and beer provides that Californian holiday feeling without leaving town.

© Scoop Media

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