Carteret Moms Open Mexican Franchise In Edison

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The blip in the economy didn't stop two friends � Pinky Kaur and Charan Singh � from plunging into the restaurant business and opening a Panchero's Mexican Grill at 2688 Woodbridge Ave. on Sept. 15.

Advertisement Singh, a former human resource specialist and stay-at-home-mom, and Kaur, an advertising representative for IndiaPost newspaper, have been friends for more than four years.

"I started a business because I wanted to secure my kids' future," said Kaur, a mother of two, who emigrated from India in 1994. "I don't want them to face the same struggles I had when I first came here." Singh, on the other hand, had stopped working when she had her third child and was desperate to get back into the swing of things.

The duo researched several franchises and finally zoned in on Panchero's � a quick-service, fresh Mexican franchise that serves tortillas pressed fresh for each customer.

"I liked the concept of the fresh tortillas, it's healthier," Singh said.

Panchero's has no microwaves, fryers or freezers in its stores that are currently present in more than 50 locations in 18 states and three in New Jersey, including Flemington.

"What is left over at the end of the day goes into the garbage. We only serve fresh," Kaur said.

The initial investment was $500,000, split in half between the two partners, Kaur said. That included setting up the equipment in the 2,200-square-foot space the duo are leasing in a strip mall adjacent to Middlesex County College.

Kaur said one of the initial hurdles was securing a commercial loan, as those are hard to come by. The duo finally got a business loan from Indus American Bank in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, she said.

Kaur noted that getting the various licenses � fire, plumbing, electric � from the township also was a little tough because of stringent rules.

Both partners agreed that the location of the restaurant, right next to the college, is its strongest selling point.

The Carteret residents waited several years to close in on this location in Edison, Singh said.

"It's close to the college, there's no other restaurant close by, there are residential town homes, and Raritan Center is close by," Kaur said.

Asked about the choice of cuisine, Singh said, "We wanted to do something different to bring to the Middlesex area. Any person can eat here for under $10." Both partners agree that working together has its benefits.

"It is our first time. We don't have any experience doing this, so the support that partnership offers helps," Kaur said.

Panchero's is their first venture, but it may not be their last.

"I want to open more outlets," a confident Kaur said.

For more information on the Panchero's franchise system or to become a franchisee, visit www.pancheros.com or call Raj Patel at 321-890-7211.

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