It’s my understanding that burritos are hard to come by in London. Apparently they just opened the first Chipotle there. For many of you, a life without burritos slapped together in 90 seconds (not including the wait on line) isn’t a life worth living. The Brits have managed to survive for a number of centuries without tortillas overstuffed with sour cream and free-range pork. And while Chipotle can certainly churn out a fine burrito, if you happen to find yourself in Spitalfields, East London you might check out Poncho No. 8. It was started by Nick Troen and Frank Yeung, Troen being the ex-Klynvedlian and Yeung a former equities trader at Goldman Sachs.
The friends spent the next three years living together, talking about going into business one day. After a brief separation — Troen worked for KPMG, the accountancy firm, and Innocent, the smoothie maker, before doing a masters, while Yeung worked for Goldman Sachs, the investment bank — they quit their jobs, moved back in together and four months ago launched a Mexican restaurant.
Although it is early days, Poncho No. 8 (Poncho Ocho), their pocket-sized restaurant in Spitalfields, East London, employs a staff of nine, sees 300 customers a day queue down the street for “gourmet” burritos and took £100,000 in its first quarter.
Troen and Yeung are unashamedly influenced by Innocent, the wildly successful fruit drink company also started by graduate friends. “It was always a company we admired. The branding and style had a big impact on us,” Troen says.
Poncho was a typical back of the envelope idea — “we looked at the numbers and thought ‘why has no one done this?’, ” Yeung says — brought to life via the same mix of ingenious, vaguely hippy branding and healthy ingredients. The restaurant features a green-painted “Guac Shack” while the website offers a “countdown to lunch” for bored office workers.