Taco Medic - from big investment to 'permanently closed'

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 13, 2024

Queenstown's two Taco Medic restaurants have quietly shut after close to ten years of operation, and once holding Tripadvisor's top restaurant spot.

Would-be diners at the popular Mexican-themed restaurants have found the stores closed in recent days, with no explanation as to why.

The business started as a food truck on Shotover Street owned by two Kiwi cousins, Ant Wilkins and Robbie McGillivray, then expanded to four brick-and-mortar outlets across Queenstown and Auckland.

Now it's run by three substantial overseas investment traders who all now live in Queenstown, two of whom are linked to the Liger Leadership Academy. Liger Holdings Limited holds 100 percent of the Taco businesses shares.

All stores are showing up as 'permanently closed' on Google.

For now it is a mystery why business has come to a dramatic halt, as customers could walk in and order a taco until very recently.

The two Queenstown stores - one located in Frankton's Queenstown Central shopping centre, the other in Searle Lane in the CBD - are displaying as 'permanently closed' on Google and have been shut for the past few days.

The two Auckland stores are also listed as closed online. 

However, there is no signage out the front of the two Queenstown locations to alert customers of a permanent closure but, looking through the doors, a pack up job appears to be underway. 

A clean up job happening behind Taco Medic Queenstown Central's doors.

The Kiwi pair who started the company were celebrated in New Zealand for their hospitality-entrepreneurship success, with a BusinessDesk story mentioning this was achieved with the help of Trevor Gile's investment

The report mentions ambitions to expand internationally.

In 2018, Forbes reported Mr Gile had "made a fortune in futures trading". The article follows the multimillion-dollar Liger Leadership Academy and its success in "exporting a Silicon Valley mindset" to youth in Cambodia and Thailand. 

But, questions remain as to how and why the Taco Medic business is not in operation.

Business not as usual: Taco Medic Searle Lane was closed at 6.30pm on Saturday, despite hours on the door saying open til 9pm.

According to the companies register, Mr Gile seems to come on board in June 2019, when the ownership of the Taco Medic stores was put into the ultimate holdings company, Taco Medic International Limited

In the international company's incorporation documents, Mr Gile has 40 percent shareholding of the company, and the two founding cousins, Mr Wilkins and Mr McGillivray, 30 shareholding percent each.

Mr Wilkins and Mr McGillivray cease ownership and management in May 2023.

As previously mentioned, one hundred percent of Taco Medic's shareholdings are now in the Liger Holdings Limited, and Mr Gile owns 100 percent of shares in this New Zealand company.

The only Taco Medic director to pick up the phone with Crux was David Arnold, who says he "was not in a position to comment" and to direct queries to co-director Jeff Difazzio. 

He indicates Mr Difazzio is the main representative of the company, but would not say which company, Taco Medic or Liger. 

Mr Difazzio has not responded to Crux's requests for an interview, nor has Mr Gile. 

Crux has heard from two former Taco Medic managers that it was a stressful working environment, and they were expected to put in more hours each week than the 40 hours they were paid for in their salaries. 

Note: This story was changed on Wednesday, February 14, to make it clear the shareholding company is Liger Holdings Limited.

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux