2006 Guzman y Gomez founded in Sydney

In 2024, the Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez set the Australian share market abuzz with its initial stock listing. Opening at $22, shares rapidly climbed 36 per cent to $30 on the first day of trading although traders were soon betting on the value settling lower. For a company founded in 2006 and competing with fast food giants like McDonalds and KFC, it was a remarkable achievement.

Guzman y Gomez is not named after its founders. The characters depicted on the logo are the fathers of two childhood friends of Steven Marks who, with fellow American Robert Hazam, opened the first restaurant in Sydney’s Newtown. Marks was a former New York hedge fund manager, so the 2024 transition should come as no surprise. Arriving in Sydney in 2003, Marks claimed he had always wanted to get into food and managed a wine bar before opening Guzman y Gomez #1.

According to Marks, the quality of Mexican food served in Australian restaurants was sub-standard in comparison to what he had experienced in the USA. In many interviews, he proclaimed his dedication to producing authentic and fresh Mexican food. Within a year Guzman y Gomex had opened more stores in Sydney. Partners who came on board in 2009 included three former McDonald’s executives and the first franchised store opened in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, in 2010.

Guzman y Gomez has brought the breakfast burrito to Australia, saying “We’re on a mission to reinvent fast food for the better, changing the way the world eats one burrito at a time”. Food writer Jill Dupleix has challenged their claim to offer the best of Mexican food, saying in the Financial Review:

Mexican food is at its best when it’s made by hand, with a squat stone molcajete and smoky char from a hot grill, and unlimited access to sun-dried Mexican chillies. This isn’t that. 

However, Australia seems to have taken to the chain’s versions of familiar Mexican dishes including burritos, tacos, nachos and bowls. And they’ve expanded, opening in Singapore in 2013, Japan in 2015 and even back in the USA in 2020. As of 2024, there were 185 Guzman y Gomez restaurants in Australia, 16 in Singapore, five in Japan and four in the United States. There’s still a way to go to catch up to Macca’s which, in April 2024, had 1,043 Australian outlets. But they’re working on it.

This website uses cookies but doesn't share them.