An Australian fast-casual chain has picked Harvard Square as one of its first United States locations, and it’s bringing a world-changing mission along with its meals.
Zambrero, the largest Mexican franchise chain in Australia, opened its first two U.S. locations this week in Harvard Square and Warwick, Rhode Island.
As customers enter in search of burritos and bowls, they’re first greeted with a bright green sign that welcomes the customer to join Zambrero’s ultimate goal: beating world hunger.
Zambrero’s tagline is “Mexican with a mission,” and the company has partnered with Rise Against Hunger, a U.S.-based international hunger relief nonprofit, to continue its Plate 4 Plate initiative here. Through Plate 4 Plate, the restaurant donates a meal to someone in need for every burrito or bowl ordered.
Zambrero has donated more than 20 million meals since its opening. For Dr. Sam Prince, who launched Zambrero back in 2005 when he was a 21-year-old medical school student, coming to the U.S. is more than just another business opportunity. It’s a connection back to the roots that inspired him, and a step closer to his goal of donating 1 billion meals by 2025.
“This country is based off this migrant story that is my parents’ story,” Prince said. “It’s something that is celebrated here in the U.S., so for me it was a dream come true to see Zambrero on U.S. shores.”
Prince’s parents are the spark behind his philanthropic fire. They pulled themselves out of poverty in Sri Lanka to raise him and his sister in Australia.
“They came from very humble beginnings but were given a free education in a remote part of the developing world,” he said. “That was kind of an important part of our past and our story and hopelessly intertwines with the Zambrero story.”
After med school, and after starting Zambrero to fill what he saw as a gap of healthy Mexican food in Australia, Prince did work overseas as a doctor, delivering aid in remote parts of the world similar to where his parents were born. He wanted to bring his aid work back into his restaurants, and Plate 4 Plate was born.
Now, with Zambrero in the U.S., even more people can satisfy their hunger with burritos, bowls, tacos, chips and dip and more (including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options) and help feed someone else in need. To Prince, the Boston area is a perfect fit for his mission.
“The U.S. and Boston specifically … have really been places where [people] have been supportive of other communities and global citizens at large,” he said. “I think our message will resonate well with the community here.”