It's not every day you hear of a Bathurst-born business expanding into the Sydney market; in fact, it's more than often the opposite.
But El Guapo Cantina owners Damian Kay and Laura Jacob are set to do just that, with the pair preparing to launch a second Mexican restaurant in the inner Sydney suburb of Neutral Bay later this month.
Ms Jacob said the pair are very excited to expand their locally-grown business into the Sydney market.
"We are so excited to take something from regional Australia to the city, as it is usually the other way around," she said.
"The generous support of the Bathurst community not only got us through COVID okay, but set us up to do this [launch in Sydney]."
Mr Kay said the decision to expand came from a number of Sydney-based visitors who desired an El Guapo in the city on the basis of their positive experience in Bathurst.
"Authentic Mexican cuisine is in the spotlight around the Sydney restaurant scene at the moment, so we feel it's the right time to expand," he said.
"The Neutral Bay restaurant will follow the same concept we've nurtured here in Bathurst: fresh Mexican flavours, a diverse craft beer range, tailored cocktails and a laid-back atmosphere."
Mr Kay said the head chef and staff members for the Neutral Bay restaurant have all been trained in Bathurst.
"As we continue to expand, we envision Bathurst will stay as our base restaurant; El Guapo will always be Bathurst born and bred," he said.
The pair will look to employ more local people in administration and management roles as El Guapo expands.
Mr Kay said he and Ms Jacob will look to expand El Guapo into other locations if the Neutral Bay and Bathurst locations prove successful in tandem.
"We've looked in Orange, Canberra and Port Macquarie, but we want to get the Neutral Bay site right first before we look at further expansion," he said.
"Neutral Bay was chosen as an ideal location on the basis of its strong restaurant and craft beer culture, and these are factors we'll look at for potential future sites."
As the sole authentic Mexican restaurant in Bathurst, Mr Kay said El Guapo has strived to deepen an appreciation for Mexico's delicacies.
"People sometimes think of Mexican food as very saucy and boring, akin to the packet Old El Paso products, but authentic Mexican is actually fresh with great flavours," he said.
"Add to that our cocktails and the largest craft beer range in the Central West, and we think Sydney will also enjoy what we have to offer."
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