The entry level for opening a restaurant in the Sydney CBD is now more than $1 million, says Dr Sam Prince, owner of Mejico, which swings opens its doors on Thursday, February 21, at 105 Pitt Street.
"You need at least a million or two. We've spent $4 or $5 [million] and the fitout is a lot of that," Prince says.
The Aztec-style walls and hand-woven pendant lights at Mejico certainly look impressive, but with a rash of Mexican restaurants opening across Sydney, Prince appears late to the Mexican wave. However, the medical doctor and philanthropist has quietly built Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill into a national fast food chain.
"People are now jumping on the Mexican bandwagon – in truth it was probably under-represented here," he says.
Mejico is Prince's upmarket punt on the cuisine, and he's lured chef Daniel Schai from Singapore to try and turn Mexican food on its head. Rather than be deterred by the high costs of opening and staffing a restaurant in Australia, Prince believes if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.
"Good operators here should be looking overseas where the running costs are lower. We're already in talks for New York and Singapore," he says.