83 F
San Fernando
Monday, Jul 15, 2024

Burger Spot Thinks Small

Burgerim aims to bring a new concept to the classic cheeseburger. The Encino-based fast-food chain allows customers to select from 11 different types of slightly-larger-than-slider-sized patties and create customized burgers by choosing from an array of sauces and toppings. The burgers come prepared in boxes of one, two or three, or in a large “party-box” size so guests can mix and match different combinations to pair with sides and beverages. “We’ve calculated that we have about 40 million different [ordering] combinations within our brand,” said Chief Executive Tom Meiron. Burgerim – which translates to “burgers” plural in Hebrew – was founded in Israel in 2011. Entrepreneur Oren Loni later purchased the rights to the business and in 2016 launched its U.S. flagship store on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. The chain, which has over 160 locations internationally, has since opened 30 franchises in California and across the U.S., including storefronts in Glendale, North Hollywood and Newbury Park. Variety’s value Burgerim’s menu strategy goes beyond the millennial pitch of using high-quality ingredients. “In today’s climate, everyone talks about quality of product,” Meiron said. “It’s not a competitive advantage anymore, it’s actually a competitive disadvantage if you don’t have it. Where we go a couple layers deeper is with the variety we provide.” In addition to the traditional beef patty, the restaurant’s menu boasts lamb, chicken, salmon and specialty options such as spicy Merguez beef and Wagyu. One burger costs $6.99, while combo plates with two burger and three burger are $9.99 and $12.99 respectively. The restaurant also serves up sandwiches, salads, wings and a variety of sides and deserts. Tujunga-based restaurant consultant Liz Thompson said the chain may be better served sticking to burgers instead of the multitude of other menu options, which can vary by location. “They have a fantastic concept and décor, but their menu and marketing are a little off,” she said. Thompson added that some Burgerim franchises seem to present themselves as either a café or sports bar instead of a burger place, and that the ambiguity may pose a challenge as the company looks to scale because customers won’t know what type of dining experience awaits them. By the end of the year, Burgerim plans to have 200 stores opened in the U.S., including 75 locations in California. Meiron said the company’s “fast-casual” business model, where customers order at the counter, will be key to rapidly expanding its franchise locations by reducing fixed costs. “We’re able to go into smaller spaces where occupancy costs are quite a bit lower,” he said. “We don’t need a 3,000 or 4,000-square-foot space with a drive-through. We’re in neighborhood locations.” The company’s investment in service and kitchen automation means franchisees only need to hire small teams of employees, which also helps reduce expenses. It costs $50,000 to purchase a Burgerim franchise. To assist first-time franchise owners, the company offers a business training program as well as a 30 percent discount on startup fees for veterans. Meiron declined to go into specifics about revenue but said the company’s earnings are above the industry average. Thompson said that while Burgerim currently offers a great burger product, its ambitious growth plan could prove difficult as it seeks out and vets new franchisees. “Who’s going to go around to make sure every single restaurant is up to quality?” she said. Meiron said that the swift expansion, especially in California, is helping the company understand what consumers want from the brand. The goal is to take what works locally and apply it to its restaurants nationwide. “California is our hub right now,” he said. “It offers a good model because of the diversity of our customer base here.” Along with its menu options, the restaurant sees its “upbeat” décor as a selling point. Meiron pointed to features such as innovative lighting, signage, packaging and even a social media wall help set Burgerim apart from competitors such as Shake Shack or CaliBurger. “Our customer base is the people who don’t want the same-old, same-old,” he said. Going forward, Burgerim plans to continue focusing on its customers. “What we do on a day-to-day basis is to figure out how to make our restaurants nicer and more comfortable, how to make our product the best it can be and how to make sure that every one of our customers has a smile on their face when they walk out the door,” Merion said. In the coming months, look for new Burgerim locations in Camarillo, Lake Balboa, North Hollywood, Northridge, Sylmar, Valley Village and Woodland Hills.

Featured Articles

Related Articles