Succeeding with a chain of churros in a province where there are churrerías on every corner is not an easy task. Tejeringo’s Coffee has not only achieved this on a local scale, but is already seeking its niche in the national market and dreams of conquering Europe and the Americas. Its owner, Antonio Arrebola, is convinced that it has a unique product because they have been able to modernize the traditional churrerías, but also that it is necessary to grow little by little, “with your head in the sky and your feet on the ground” .
– How do you manage to turn a product as simple as the churro into a successful franchise?
–This is a very long process, it is not something that can be done in one day. Everything comes from my mother, who is the one who left me the inheritance of weaving thanks to a business that is still open behind Barbarela. As I am not a good student, my mother put me to work very early, when I was 15 years old, and I took her as my reference model. I liked the idea of being my own boss, and from then on, my ideas began to be clear. When I was 19 years old, I started my first business, which did not turn out well for me, and a year and a half later I opened El Artesano, in Churriana, which is where the idea of Tejeringo’s Coffee germinated. I started with a small place with four tables and then I expanded and grew, I decided to jump into the Center, create a logo and so on little by little until today.
– When do you decide to export your product to other sites?
– I do not think that this is decided in a concrete moment, but that it is part of the natural evolution. When 13 years had passed and I had a 200-square-meter store in Churriana, I realized that people were coming from all over Malaga and I became interested in the franchise model. My superlative idea was to one day arrive in London (laughs).
– What encouraged you to make the leap?
–That is quite a long development, although I remember the first time I saw a Dunkin ‘Donuts (now Dunkin’), which was in the old train station, and it seemed crazy: a franchise that came from the United States … That was long before I had my own business, but I was already in love with that idea. But to get there you have to do all the steps. There is no point where you say I want to franchise. In Churriana I was surprised to see people who waited 40 minutes to take weaving to their house because I myself would not wait for it. Of course there are things that turn on the red lights and tell you that you are on the right track, like a comedian of the stature of Tomás García dedicating a complete monologue to you.
-What is the secret of success?
–Our secret is that we have turned the concept around. When you think of a churrería, oil, grease, papers on the floor, a black fryer… and Tejeringo’s is the opposite. It is a handmade, classic thing but also very modern and groundbreaking. I remember that at El Artesano, in the midst of the 2007 crisis, I decided to invest almost 100,000 euros in renovating the premises and including a more modern decoration. For that I had to fight even with my family, who told me I was crazy, but I took it forward and the cash went up 35%. Since then I knew that was the way.
“We are going to open in Algeciras, Marbella, Estepona and San Pedro, and later in Granada and Madrid”
“We are happy because all our businesses are open and the customers are loyal”
– Has everything been that simple?
-Not at all. I was wrong a lot and I hit some brutal smacks. But you have to learn from the things that go wrong, recognize that no matter how much you do, you never know everything. In all the openings we have had to overcome problems. Anyway, you have to be a little crazy to throw yourself like me, because it is normal that you meet people who put your feet on the ground. I have always been a very dreamer and I have projected what I want in the future. I have always been an ambitious person and that does not seem a bad thing to me as long as you respect others and are honest.
–How many stores does Tejeringo’s Coffee have?
– Right now 13: ten in the capital, one in Fuengirola, another in Las Lagunas and another in Seville.
–When a Tejeringo’s in London?
– (Laughter) After the experience in Seville, I can tell you that it will take time. Although I also tell you that our growth is being exponential and in recent years there has been an explosion. If the pandemic did not come, we would have set up many establishments and perhaps we would already be in Córdoba, Granada or Madrid, but this has cut our wings. Even so, on Tuesday I sign four new stores and then I have another three pending. Of course I want to get to London and New York, but you have to keep your head in the sky and your feet on the ground. First we are going to be nationals. I’m not in a hurry because I don’t want to die of success. The older you get, the more you realize that things are missing.
– Where will the new establishments open?
–In Marbella, Estepona, San Pedro and Algeciras. It is a very powerful investor that will mount many more if it does well. He is an entrepreneur who comes from having 100 Pizza Hut in Nigeria and he is going to give us a very important quantum leap. Probably afterwards we will arrive in Granada and possibly Madrid.
– How many workers do you have?
– Counting all the franchises we will have about 100 workers.
–And how much do they bill?
–It is difficult to know because each place is different. There are some that invoice 38,000 and others that reach 60,000 euros. An average could be 50,000 per location.
– What is the best time for weavers?
-Winter. When the temperature starts to drop, we start selling. December and January are great months, but there are also exceptions. In Fuengirola, for example, the summer has been brutal, or in El Palo, where we have increased sales by five percent during confinement. It is true that others have dropped sales by 40%, but you cannot ask for more with the current situation.
– How are they living the Covid?
– As far as possible we are happy considering the number of companies that are falling. We have responded quite well, all our businesses are open and the client has remained loyal. You also have to see that our ticket is smaller than in other businesses. People can be removed from a more expensive restaurant, but coffee, breakfast or going with friends are not removed because we need to see each other and be in a pleasant place.
– Has the coronavirus made you rethink something about the business?
–In our case we tried the home delivery service but we were not convinced by how the product got home and we have stopped doing it. What has changed me the most is that I think that the premises have to be even bigger, at least 200 square meters, and have a terrace, yes or yes. The fundamental thing is to give more quality to the client so that they continue to come.
–In general, how do you think we are going to get out of this?
– The situation is very difficult, many people are falling and this is going to accelerate many things at the business level, such as technology, electric cars or the services that are being made, such as teleworking or videoconferences. At the hospitality level I think that the bars of a lifetime, unless they have a very great differentiation or have loyal customers, they are all going to fall and it is a tremendous pity. Two years ago I heard that the snacks and breakfasts years were going to be in the hands of franchises in a period of ten years, and if you look at McDonald’s or Burger King they have already started with coffee because they want to catch this market. And the coronavirus is going to accelerate that a lot. Having a business is not the same as having a brand, there is a lot of difference. A brand is a promise of something and that is the strength of franchises.