Snack boxes and Mighty Macs could soon take the place of throwing a shrimp on the ‘barbie’ with the news that Galway-based fast food chain Supermac’s is set to open a branch in Australia in the coming year to tap into the growing Irish immigrant market there.
Supermac’s currently operates over 100 restaurants across Ireland and Northern Ireland in a mixture of company-owned and franchised operations. This will be the company’s first restaurant outside the island of Ireland, although the company does own the Claddagh Irish pub chain in the United States.
The exact details are as yet undecided, but the inaugural Australian Supermac’s looks set to be located in either Sydney, Melbourne or Perth, with Sydney being the preferred location.
It is not yet known whether the restaurant will be company owned or run by a franchisee, with Supermac’s owner Pat McDonagh revealing the company has received a number of approaches regarding an Australian franchise, although none have been suitable as yet.
“You’ve to follow the market and, wherever the market is, that’s where you have to go,” said Mr McDonagh of the decision to expand to the southern hemisphere.
“There’s an opportunity out there and it’s like anything else, you have to grasp it while it’s there,” he added.
However, Mr McDonagh said there was “a lot of water to go under the bridge” before an Australian Supermac’s became a reality and many details had still to be ironed out.
“You have to get the right site, you’ve to get the right planning permits and then you’ve to either get the right franchisee or operate it yourself,” he explained.
Mr McDonagh said the company would endeavour to use Irish produce in any Australian operation, although the cost involved would be substantial, given the 10,000-mile distance between Galway and Sydney.
“That’s why the opportunity is there, because there’s a longing from the Irish immigrants for the Irish food and the Irish taste et cetera and you have try and replicate that as best you can,” he said.
Although the initial target market will be the immigrant Irish population, Mr McDonagh said he hopes that Supermac’s will prove as popular with the local populace as it has done in Ireland
“It’s the same as any other business – OK, you get the initial local interest from the immigrants but you also have to cater for the local customer base as well.”
Mr McDonagh said he was amenable to incorporating some elements of Australian cuisine onto Supermac’s menus if there were good ideas but he said kangaroo burgers were unlikely to be served in Eyre Square anytime soon.
“I don’t think they’d be the first item I’d bring over! The sound of it doesn’t sit right with the Irish palate,” he quipped.