From a background in media sales and marketing to one of the fastest growing franchises on the Gold Coast food scene, Scott Chapman is part owner of several Zambrero restaurants including the Gold Coast and Queensland’s first store at Coolangatta.
After 15 years in Sales and Marketing at Southern Cross Austereo and Morrison Media on the Gold Coast, his career change was sparked by a conversation with an old rugby mate – an owner of several Zambrero restaurants, who convinced him it was a change for good.
“My wife and I and our business partner started our first Zambrero store in Surfers Paradise 2 years ago,” said Scott. “We then opened the drive thru restaurant at Nerang and quickly after that took over the Coolangatta store from the previous owners.
“We bought it and closed it for 2 weeks to dress it up and made it look aesthetically like the other Zambrero stores. Coolangatta was the first store in Queensland and it was the flagship store, so we gave it a refresh after several years.”
Compared to his other stores, Coolangatta is tiny, but Scott believes that is what makes it such a local favourite.
“Coolangatta is a great little store. It’s an easy place to get a quick grab and go for lunch or dinner, and we’ve now had Council approval for roadside dining, so people can sit down and enjoy a meal there.”
Growing up in Stanthorpe, three hours southwest of the Gold Coast, Scott admits he is a country boy through and through. But like many other Gold Coasters, he and wife Shae, originally from Melbourne, have made the Gold Coast their home.
“We have our roots here now, and we’ll raise our two kids here,” said Scott. “We’re committed to doing what we can to help this town.”
In addition to their businesses the couple both work for local child protection charity, Bravehearts, and Scott is on the Board of Directors. They also employ around 50 local staff through their stores – an impressive achievement for a family business.
With four stores under their belt and plans for several more in the near future, Scott isn’t worried about competition. “There are plenty of people and plenty of room on the Coast for more Zambrero restaurants.”
Part of the reason for the brand’s success is its charitable side – Plate for Plate. Started by the founder of Zambrero, Sam Prince, whose mother was born and raised in poverty in Sri Lanka, Scott says it’s more about providing food for impoverished people.
“Every time we sell a bowl, burrito or one of our retail products, a meal pack is donated via Food Bank or Rise Against Hunger. Importantly, to receive a meal, the recipient must be enrolled in school. It’s not only curving the starvation cycle but also educating people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.”
To date, Zambrero has donated about 15.4 million meals, and the Coolangatta store has been responsible for close to 300,000 meals alone.
“It’s really cool that the business is built around the charity, and not the other way around. It’s why the growth of Zambrero has been so organic – people want to be part of this brand.
“We’ve still got the same staff at our Surfers Paradise from two years ago. Normally in fast food you have a 60 – 70% turnover of staff, but we only have about 10%. We’re not all about churn and burn – instead we really focus on giving customers the best experience they can have and caring for our staff while helping people in need at the same time.”
And the future is looking bright, with a Zambrero Food Truck also set to hit the road soon, which will allow Scott to increase their presence at local events.
“There are great events on the Southern Gold Coast that we hope to be a part of. The food truck scene down here is more about open air, large scale events which the Southern Gold Coast is doing better than anywhere else.”
Scott hopes to have the Zambrero truck out in force at events throughout the southern region over the next 12 months, and they are also planning to open a new store at Burleigh in addition to their restaurants at Oxenford, Nerang (including the drive thru), Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta.
Congratulations to Scott and the team on taking out the Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Award in the May 2017 Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards!