As the cost-of-living crisis bites, hospitality businesses are feeling the effects of both soaring costs and tightening belts among customers.

But while many other restaurants are being forced to cut back, there’s one Glasgow success story that’s bucking the trend – and expanding into a second venue.

Despite only opening six months ago, Mexican restaurant and bar El Jefe’s is already set to open a new branch in Giffnock after a roaring success in their Finnieston flagship. Co-owner Jamie Lessani attributes this success to a “combination of factors”, namely offering diners an “experience” beyond their food.


“Our head chef is unbelievable,” he says. “The cocktails use top quality products from Mexico, the tequila that we are using in the bar is some of the best you can get in the world. And we have a mariachi band that plays every Friday and Saturday night, nowhere else I’ve been to in Scotland does that. We get a lot of people messaging our Instagram page wanting to make sure that the band will be there for their booking – because it’s an experience.”

The Instagram page, according to Jamie, has been integral to El Jefe’s success.

“I think a lot of businesses miss out on having a really strong social media platform. It drives customers to you. We have a lot of bloggers and influencers come down to the restaurant, and they have a trusted audience who will then want to come and try it. I do that myself, if I see a blogger post at a new restaurant I will often go to try it out.”

This social-led strategy that has served Jamie so well at El Jefe’s was borne out in his previous venture, the popular Brunch Club in Glasgow’s west end. But his strong instincts for hospitality success may also be genetic, learning the ropes of the industry through his family business and with both his older brothers also owning bars and restaurants.

Yet the idea of bringing authentic Mexican food to Glasgow was a personal passion of Jamie’s.

“I’ve always been a massive fan of the food, the country, I’ve visited many times. It was the first restaurant really, that I wanted to open, but what we always try and do with our business is wait for the right site and the right time. Eventually the right location came up and El Jefe’s was born.”


Choosing Giffnock, a quiet suburb in East Renfrewshire, for their second branch might not have been an obvious choice. But as Jamie explains, they are targeting a post-Covid trend for hyper-local, neighbourhood dining.

“In Giffnock there isn’t much like what we’re offering. The population around that area is huge, and people want to stay in suburb areas for dinner, rather than travelling into town. So, by offering them a fun, local dining experience, I think they will naturally go to check it out and hopefully become returning customers. Having better quality restaurants coming into the area is great. We don’t view it as competition, we view it as driving quality into the area. It’s only more beneficial for each venue.”

El Jefe’s Giffnock is open now for takeaway, and will open in mid-March at 219 Fenwick Road.