Illustration by Inés Antuñano.
We all like to have options… or so it may seem. Considering most of us almost always order our favorite dish when returning to a restaurant, wouldn’t it be better to keep a short and optimized menu? We interviewed Juan Pablo Cruz and Diego Iturbide —El Moro’s CFO and Branch Manager, respectively— and it seems the answer is a fat yes.
1. The signature dish is never modified; it gets paired
El Moro, in its glorious 84 years, has never altered its star product: the famous churro. In the interview they let us know that they refuse to inject it with flavors (a common practice in Coyoacán) and that a churro must remain simple and true to its origins. If people already love it, why toy with their feelings? What they have done is create options that go really well with the churro, like their many-styled hot chocolate or milkshakes. They even created the consuelo: a family get-together between the churro and its dairy cousin, the ice cream. A consuelo (or consuelitos) is an ice cream scoop smacked between two churro beds sandwich-style; a way of mixing flavors without changing the original essence.
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El Moro uses the same ingredients to cook its churros, consuelos, moritos, milkshakes and chocolates. This causes a cost reduction regarding supplies (mainly oil and flour), and enables the kitchen to reuse ingredients. Juan Pablo and Diego tell us that one kitchen uses from 200 to 400 liters of oil daily, that’s why this strategy proves to be efficient. At the end of the day, El Moro uses few supplies and most of it is not perishable, allowing them to have an optimized menu with accessible prices. It’s important to mention that all of their supplies are 100% Mexican.
An order of churros costs 24 pesos, a reasonable amount considering flavor and size. Of these 24 pesos, the supply cost amounts to 30-40% of it, while the rest covers other expenses like workforce and the restaurant’s services, and of course, the earnings. Thanks to its specialized menu and the selection of products that pair really well with its signature dish, El Moro can afford to keep its prices low.
2. The brand philosophy must be present in the menu
Even though the churros represent a clash of cultures —it’s believed the Portuguese brought them from Europe—, El Moro is a 100% Mexican and family brand; although we wouldn’t be surprised if sometime in the future they decided to venture into international markets. A churro stand is one of the first tourist stops in Mexico. When we say family brand, we not only refer to the fact that the founder’s descendants are still in charge of the brand, but also that most of the staff that currently works at El Moro has been doing so for many years and are considered family. It’s no surprise that the brand’s 3 most important values are family, teamwork and responsibility; these are very present in the language, brand image and menu.
While we are on the subject of image, it’s important to mention that El Moro has only been through one rebranding process in its 84 years. It was in 2014 when the brand decided to try a quick service branch to see if expanding from their only restaurant in Mexico City’s center was a good idea. Their decision to be present at Mercado Roma came hand in hand with the idea of being a part of Mexico’s first food hall. For this and future openings, the brand changed their image with a new graphic ecosystem that was taken directly from its roots: the tiles of the first restaurant.
With now 13 branches, El Moro takes its place as a great Mexican brand with a lot to teach; its efficient business model has room for a lot of analysis. Surely a fair amount of restaurants can get rid of several dishes that only make noise on the menu and divert the eyes from other more profitable and delicious options. The question is: will they dare to? El Moro does not recommend to suddenly modify neither the offer nor the business model, but to always move slowly and steadily, as their motto says, with “pies de plomo” (which literally means lead feet).
*Our specialty is the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry.