Founded by cousins Ant Wilkins and Robbie McGillivray, Taco Medic began life as a Queenstown food truck.
Ant first experienced authenstic Mexican tacos in Puerto Escondido while on a surf trip. He came home to Central Otago armed with an idea to take this fresh staple of Mexican cuisine and put a Kiwi spin on it.
“There is plenty of quick service Mexican food available in New Zealand, but we wanted to present it differently,” Ant explains. “We’re Kiwi blokes and love seafood, beef, pork, and fresh veggies – we wanted to push those elements forward.
Taco testing with Queenstown locals
The pair worked hard to get their recipes right. Every Wednesday evening they developed their menu at their flat, based on feedback from friends and family. Meanwhile, with chalked outlines
on the driveway, they plotted the layout for their ideal taco truck and got building.
‘In a place like Queenstown, it’s the locals who are your lifeblood when tourist numbers are low. So, we offered a discount on our tacos to locals, and started getting a big following through word of mouth.” says Robbie.
From food truck to taqueria
Growth came quickly. Within two weeks of opening their van’s servery hatch, Taco Medic was a number one recommendation on Trip Advisor.
“We soon expanded with another site for the truck, but we wanted to be open seven days a week and offer a consistent product. An actual store was what we needed,” says Robbie.
The first store was a hole-in-the-wall establishment, followed by a second larger premises. Today the van is still a fixture of the company, but with two taquerias in Queenstown, Ant and Robbie are firmly focused on growth, which has led to the opening of their third outlet in Auckland.
Left to right: Ant and Robbie in their food truck; Taco Medic's newest outlet in Auckland's Ponsonby Road
Growth, vision, teamwork and tacos
Ant and Robbie believe the growth they have experienced is down to three things: hard work, partnering with good people, and having a long-term vision for their business.
“If you believe you’ve got a great idea, then use that fire to push yourself forward. Back yourself 100 percent. Imagine having a great idea and not doing anything about it, only for someone else to succeed with something similar – that would be pretty gutting."
- Ant Wilkins, Taco Medic
“We have surrounded ourselves with good people and built a team who all live and breathe tacos!” he laughs.
“We’d include Bob Johnson, our Crombie Lockwood broker in Queenstown in that group too. Bob has been our insurance broker since day one,” says Ant.
“Crombie Lockwood fully understand our business as it is today and where we aspire to take it. They assess all the angles for us and that is so valuable. Insurance isn’t something we have time to think about day-to-day, so it’s good to have some expert eyes on the topic on our behalf as the business transforms”, he concludes.
Ant and Robbie’s enthusiasm is contagious. “Taco Medic International? Yep, definitely. Taco Medic Intergalactic? Who knows!” laughs Robbie.
Published in Crombie Lockwood Sure - Autumn 2022
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