Mexican restaurants are a growing trend in the UK; in the last few years we’ve seen the establishment of US burrito chain Chipotle in London, Barburrito in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Nottingham, as well as the nationwide chain restaurant, Chiquito. According to figures from Kantar, a market research company, UK spending on make-at-home Mexican meals grew by 12.8% to £264m in 2012-13. Mexigo, the new burrito bar opening in St Andrews on Bridge Street, on the former site of KFB, is taking advantage of the UK’s newfound appreciation for Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
Casual eating establishments are ten-a-penny in St Andrews, and we’ve seen them come and go; in the past year Butlers’ have morphed into Dakota Grill, Nando’s and Forgans’ have arrived, and Chillies has become the St Andrews Brewing Company pub. Last semester, Caleb Kress argued in The Saint that a burrito bar in St Andrews would be a success, and his prediction may well come true. The large American student population, with their voracious hunger for all things Mexican, will no doubt help Mexigo in this respect.
It was with much anticipation from St Andrews students that Mexigo launched its Facebook page in November 2013; since then it has been a long wait for more information about St Andrews’ first burrito bar, but there is now an opening date; originally set for 1st March, it has been pushed back to this Saturday, 8th March, due to the “chaotic roadworks” currently surrounding the premises. According to its Facebook page, which at the time of writing had 639 likes, it will be a burrito bar in the vein of Daddy Donkey, a Mexican takeaway based in London. Mexigo will primarily be a takeaway outlet, but will provide 8 seats for those who want to sit in. There will be free Wi-Fi, and they will serve alcohol, although the license is still pending. Appealing to the student market, they will also “major” on deliveries, including a “party box with Mexican beers and tequila”. There will be a loyalty scheme; customers will receive a 10% discount if they join the “Amigos Club”, and there will be “promotional nights”, including a “Man v Food Bad Ass Burrito Challenge”, with t-shirt prizes.
I spoke to Alan Thrupp, Fife busi- ness owner and brains behind Mexigo, about his new venture. Mr Thrupp used to own a bar and restaurant on the site of what is now the Rule, and also runs two establishments in Anstruther; the Waterfront and the Bank, both hotel-restaurants. As well as running these, he is an accountant, and has lived in Fife for thirty-five years. He has been “looking to set up this type of business for some time, and saw this as the perfect location”. When I question whether the location, which is out of town, in a residential area, and lacking a large number of passers-by, is perhaps not conducive to thriving footfall, he replies that he is not worried as “there has been a takeaway on the site for 40 years”.
Mexigo’s menu is ambitious; offering not only Tex-Mex classics such as burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas, but also American-style burgers, ribs and chicken wings. The pricing is relatively high; burritos cost £6.50, with slow-roasted pork carnitas costing an extra 65p, and steak an extra £1.25. Guacamole is also an extra 90p, meaning that a steak burrito with guacamole (and who doesn’t like guacamole?) would cost the best part of £10. The burgers are £5.95, with fries an extra £1, while chicken wings cost £4.95. When asked about his personal favourite item on the menu, he chooses the haggis, explaining that “only in Scotland could a Mexican restaurant offer haggis”. Indeed, he seems to be drawing inspiration from Los Cardos, a Mexican takeaway restaurant in Edinburgh that is famous for its haggis burrito. He believes Mexigo’s uniqueness, as the only Mexican takeaway in St Andrews, will be a major pull factor. Asked about the target market, he answers that it is “16-30 year olds who are looking for fresh, healthy takeaway food”; students, therefore, will probably make up a large proportion of his customers.
When asked about possible growth plans, Mr Thrupp replies that he is looking into sites in Dundee and Stirling, both towns with large student populations. His marketing strategy also seems to be primarily aimed at students; demonstrated by the fact that the main source of information about Mexigo is the Facebook page. There is also a website in the pipeline, and they will use social media to promote events and offers, although the Twitter feed seems to be underused, with only 2 tweets and 19 followers.
All in all, Mexigo has the potential to be an exciting addition to St Andrews’ ever-changing casual dining scene, and one that is eagerly anticipated by many in St Andrews who have been missing their burrito fix.