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Franchise Mentor: Panchero’s Mexican Grill Franchisee Jim Kolzow Celebrates Three Years in Business While He Scouts Locations for His Second Store (Part 1)

by Brian Bixler on November 12, 2012

in Franchise Mentor, Mexican Restaurant Franchise



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(Ambrosio’s note:  With a comprehensive franchise plan, there’s no need for an investor to reinvent the wheel: That work has already been done. But new franchisees can still learn from others who have come before them.

With our Franchise Mentor series, we will introduce you to investors with diverse franchise portfolios as well as single-unit operators who share their personal stories about the keys to their success, what has worked for them, and even some things to avoid, as you contemplate becoming a franchise partner.

Today’s post is the first of two partsStay tuned for Part 2 to be posted tomorrow.)

Panchero’s Mexican Grill Franchisee Jim Kolzow Celebrates Three Years in Business While He Scouts Locations for His Second Store

Celebrating three years as a Panchero’s Mexican Grill franchisee this month, Jim Kolzow, an Air Force pilot with no prior experience in the restaurant industry, owns one Panchero’s outlet in New Jersey and has signed on to open two more. He has nothing but praise for the Panchero’s franchise plan which he says made the whole process “easy.”



Burritos Sent Pilot Flying

Jim Kolzow, Panchero's Mexican Grill Franchisee

Jim Kolzow, Panchero’s Mexican Grill Franchisee

If you get Jim Kolzow talking about burritos, his enthusiasm can be contagious. At the very least, the guy is going to make you hungry by talking about the food at Panchero’s Mexican Grill, where he is celebrating his third year as a franchisee this month.

So it’s no wonder that the corporate executives at Panchero’s often invite potential franchisees to give Kolzow a call to talk about his experiences with the company, just as Franchise Chatter did. And he had a mouthful of good things to say about the chain that distinguishes itself by selling made-to-order “Fresh Mex” food.

“All in all, it’s been a great experience working with them and I look forward to expanding,” Kolzow said of his interaction with the Panchero’s corporate team.



A pilot in the Air Force, Kolzow opened his Panchero’s unit in Vorhees, N.J., in 2009 as one of the first franchisees in the state. While he checked out competitors such as Moe’s Southwest Grill, Panera Bread, and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, he knew two things going into the venture: he wanted to be the investor, not an employee; and he wanted to sell burritos.

As a member of the armed forces, he spent time in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Los Angeles, where he became a fan of Chipotle. So, when he returned to Philadelphia, he noticed a void in the market with very few places offering a Tex-Mex menu. Chipotle doesn’t franchise, so he went looking for something similar and that’s when he discovered Panchero’s.

“The bottom line is that I love burritos,” he said. “I love Tex-Mex food so to be a part of it is awesome.”

Simplicity Helped Sell Panchero’s Concept

The 30-year-old franchisee said Panchero’s offered an appealing package. Everything is made fresh so the product is excellent, there are only five main items on the menu which provides simplicity, and the corporate support in becoming a franchisee and setting up a store is outstanding, he said.

He is currently in the process of scouting locations for his second store and will eventually open a third one.



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