What if you could start a new business with no debt?
Sarnia’s Nathan Colquhoun says he and his partners have a winning strategy that is allowing them to open their fourth local business without a bank loan.
“I’m convinced this is the right model,” says Colquhoun.
He and partners Daniel Slade and Chris Lewis are about to open Mexico, a restaurant and bar specializing in soft tacos, fresh roasted coffee and margaritas.
The three men also operate The Refined Fool Brewing Company, Burger Rebellion food truck, and Storyboard Solutions marketing firm with various partners.
When they decided to open a Mexican-themed restaurant they looked for family and friends to invest in 25% of the business. Colquhoun won’t say exactly what each was required to contribute but said 14 investors, including the primary three, ultimately raised $80,000, enough to renovate 410 Front St. and open the doors on their new venture.
Each investor is promised a minimum dividend every six months and half off their tacos.
The half-off really drew interest, Colquhoun said with a laugh.
“No one is breaking the bank and we have all these family and friends who feel like they have a stake in the business,” he said. “They tell their friends about it and like that they invested in something local.”
Mexico is scheduled to open Nov. 1 beside The Bicycle Shop, across from Centennial Park. The building has been gutted and a new bar built, leaving room for indoor seating for 30. Part of the space will offer casual couches where customers can lounge.
In the spring, a new 50-seat, covered patio will be built in front of the restaurant overlooking Sarnia Bay.
The concept came from a trip to Mexico a few years ago.
“We were so relaxed there and appreciated the food and the atmosphere,” said Colquhoun. “It’s such a hospitable, warm, relaxing culture.
“We wanted to recreate that for people here. This city can’t go another year without good tacos.”
But, he said, none of the stereotypical Mexican décor or music will greet customers.
“It will be a little bit surprising when people come in. There’s not going to be any sombreros on the walls. This is not going to be classic Mexican at all.”
The menu will be simple. Street tacos made with four-inch corn tortillas, meat, onions, cilantro and various salsas will sell for $3 – $4 each.
Brunch will be served daily featuring avocado toast and Mexican scrambled eggs.
Pilot Coffee Roasters in Toronto is supplying fresh beans and training Mexico’s staff as baristas.
“I think people are excited for tacos and coffee,” said Colquhoun. “They are so simple and you can eat so many of them.
“We’re anticipating a lunch rush, and then developing a siesta culture where you can sit around in the afternoon with friends enjoying tacos.”
The bar will be fully stocked with specialty cocktails and wine and margaritas on tap.
Plans are for Mexico to open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and eventually late night.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.