The Zambrero story starts with its Founder, Dr. Sam Prince, one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Sam started Zambrero in 2005 as a 21-year-old medical student with just $16,000 savings. The brand now has over 230 restaurants globally, and its Plate 4 Plate initiative has generated more than 55 million meals for people in need.
The genesis of his idea to start Zambrero came about while he was working part-time at a Mexican restaurant to pay the bills while still a medical student. Sam describes the inception of the brand, “There’s a quote by Steven Spielberg, who said that ‘intuition whispers in your ear it rarely yells.’ And indeed, in my life, intuition was whispering in my ear that Mexican food was just not done well for a long period of time in Australia. And at some point, it started to yell.”
Zambrero saw rapid growth from inception, from 20 restaurants in 2012 to over 100 restaurants in 2015 the brand quickly cemented its position as one of Australia’s fastest growing businesses with a presence on the BRW Fast 100 list four times consecutively.
This rapid growth was not always easy though, Sam applied passion, determination, and sheer resilience during Zambrero’s foundational years. In 2015, with the business primed for its next cycle of growth, doubts emerged over the strategy and there was a fork in the road. Sam made the difficult decision to buy back the small amount of equity he had gifted to some former employees to regain 100% control and ownership. Today in the overall context of Zambrero the event is insignificant, however at the time Sam needed the conviction to endure personal financial hardship for the longer-term vision to drive Zambrero to where it is today.
It was at 100 restaurants that Sam appointed the first CEO of the brand, Karim Messih. Successfully acting in the capacity of General Manger since 2013 and having worked with Sam to grow the brand from 34 restaurants when he started, it was a natural progression for Karim. A testament to the strength of the brand’s operating model, at the end of 2017 Karim pursued his ambition to become a Franchise Partner and now operates Zambrero restaurants of his own with sights set on building out a multi - unit portfolio.
The current leadership team comprises Bianca Azzopardi who assumed the Australian CEO role from 2017-2019 and since 2020 has led the brand's expansion into the United States with almost 10 years’ experience in the brand. In 2020, Matthew Kenny was appointed CEO of the Australian business and Emily Teh the CEO of our UK business leading our expansion into this market. Matthew & Emily were both appointed following their success in other roles within the Prince Group.