Jump to content



Sign up for a free account!

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests to win things like this Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote and you won't get the popup ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
- - - - -

Thinking of opening a burger place...


  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#1 of 40 CameronJ

CameronJ

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 244 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 28 2002

Posted July 10 2012 - 01:53 AM

So I'm thinking of striking out on my own and buying into a franchise. I've evaluated a ton of different options/industries - and I'm narrowing my choices down to something in the "better burger" category. I'm hoping that the folks on HTF can help me with your thoughts on burgers. Please note - I'm not looking for any comments on the pros/cons of franchising - I've gone through all of those and have determined that its right for me at this time. Of course, finding the right franchise is not just about the concept its also about the relationship with the franchisor,etc., but at this point I'm looking for some info that will help me find the right concept (or maybe forget about burgers all together). So please enlighten me with your opinion on "better burgers". The better burger category encompasses a lot - technically McDonald's Angus burger is a "better burger". Think Five Guys, Smashburger, Red Robin, etc.. Here are some specific questions I'm looking to get answered: 1. What do you think of "better burgers" in general? Do you think its a fad? 2. What's your favorite burger place? Why? 3. If you are looking for a burger, do you typically go fast food, Quick Service/Fast Casual, or sit-down? 4. What's a good price point for you for a "better burger"? Any other thoughts you have would be great. I'm basically going out and asking these questions of every one I know and lots of forums I'm on. The challenge in evaluating these alternatives is that I know what I like, but realizing that my tastes may not be the same as everyone else's is critical.

#2 of 40 Sam Posten

Sam Posten

    Moderator

  • 15,610 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1997
  • Real Name:Sam Posten
  • LocationAberdeen, MD & Navesink, NJ

Posted July 10 2012 - 02:26 AM

Keep in mind I am a frustrated entrepreneur: Haven't been able to make the leap myself but want to. I'd immediately jump to the negatives of the proposition: -60% of all new restaurants fail (which is better than the 90% figure often quoted) http://www.businessw...inancial-advice -Beef has issues we all know, Mad Cow, high fat and cholesterol -There is soooo much competition. Not only would you be up against every fast food place but also the specialty places as well BUT. The good news is you know the downsides ahead of time. You would be starting a business in tough economic times and be prepared for that and not have to adjust when things get worse down the road. And despite the health issues there is clearly a steady market of people who enjoy tasty food despite those minor health risks. Would I start a mass market burger chain? Personally I wouldn't feel right about it but I'm sure they can be profitable because they focus on keeping costs down. Would I start a premium burger place? Even then restaurants wouldn't be my choice (I'm more tech!) but I bet that these places who focus on premium experiences at reasonable but not outrageous prices can make a steady business with the right circumstances and market. Good luck! If you decide to go for it be aware of the things you need to be cautious of but don't let any of it talk you out of it if YOU think you can be successful!

"Sam, you are the biggest nutter we have here."

Blog: Navesink.net - My Flickr Stream - Dolby Atmos Discussion Thread - Updates at Twitter - Join the HTF Flickr Pool


#3 of 40 CameronJ

CameronJ

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 244 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 28 2002

Posted July 10 2012 - 03:10 AM

Thanks for the comments Sam. I'm a firm believer that most small businesses (restaurants included) fail not because of bad concepts but because they are run by people who are bad businessmen/women. I can tell lots of stories of people I know that started businesses that failed because they didn't understand simple concepts such as not taking inventory for themselves, not taking money out of the register for their personal lunch, not managing their costs, etc. What's interesting about burgers is that, at least in my area, the market seems to be under-served (from a layman's perspective). Now - I'm not including fast food in this - but there really aren't that many places (currently open) to go get a good burger. Of course, that could be because the demand isn't there, and that's what I'm trying to figure out now. Once concept that I'm looking at seriously focuses on the "healthy" side (yes - as much as possible with burgers). Premium ingredients, high-quality beef, etc. Now, we know that burgers can only be so healthy (or let's call it less-unhealthy), but I think there's always a market for them. The worry I have is that, while there's always a market for McDonalds and the like, the market for a better burger may be a fad and may dry up in a few years. Combine that with the possibility of increased competition (the fact that there are three concepts I'm looking at now) and you could get a market saturated pretty quickly.

#4 of 40 Hugh Jackes

Hugh Jackes

    Supporting Actor

  • 759 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 13 2000
  • Real Name:Hugh Jackes
  • LocationAnaheim. CA

Posted July 10 2012 - 04:26 AM

5 Guys and The Habit are exploding (figuratively, of course) in Southern California. I frequently fast food while running errands or otherwise travelling around on the weekend. But I susually go for cheap, having to feed five or more, counting the kids and their friends. When I go to 5 Guys or the Habit, it's usually because I am specifically looking for a higher quality burger. I guess what I'm saying is that when I'm talking volume and convenience, it's all about the price point. I love Costco as the best deal in town (slice of pizza and a Coke for $2.50, dog and a Coke for $1.50). My perfect burger joint would have The Habit's burger and 5 Guys fries.
I have learned that some pain cannot be healed, but must be endured. I believe our Higher Power will help us to endure and find peace. I loved the boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable and he is taken from me-yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it."
-- William Wordsworth 1812

 

#5 of 40 Greg_S_H

Greg_S_H

    Executive Producer

  • 14,836 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2001
  • Real Name:Greg
  • LocationNorth Texas

Posted July 10 2012 - 04:49 AM

Have you considered Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle? Unless your are is loaded up on them, they seem to be a license to print money. I guess I'm more sit-down. We recently got Five Guys and In-N-Out, and they don't really live up to the hype for me. I much prefer Red Robin, though I really prefer high-quality area chains (we have one called Scotty P.'s that is as good as any I've eaten, though they seem to compete at whatever level you'd place RR). That said, In-N-Out came into this area with a lot of hype and subsequent lines around the building. I'm pretty sure you can get near the place all these months later, but I don't think they're in any danger.

#6 of 40 bryan4999

bryan4999

    Second Unit

  • 460 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 07 2012
  • Real Name:Bryan Forbes

Posted July 10 2012 - 04:52 AM

I really like Red Robin, and they have a lot of "healthier" choices besides beef burgers. I have had both their turkey and veggie burgers and was very satisifed, and they have several salads I like as well. That being said, since I do not each much red meat, I usually splurge on a "real" burger when I go. They also make it easy to make special orders and have always accomodated any special requests, which is definitely not the case at fast food type burger places. They are crazy busy every time I go (and the servers manage to keep up) and seem to be doing well.

#7 of 40 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer

  • 10,268 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2002
  • Real Name:Cameron Yee
  • LocationSince 2006

Posted July 10 2012 - 05:00 AM

1. What do you think of "better burgers" in general? Do you think its a fad?


I don't think it's a fad. The popularity of brew pub burgers shows people will pay up to $10 for a quality burger. That puts more pressure on a better burger place though, since you have to be clearly better than traditional fast food, but also good/inexpensive enough so people aren't wondering why they didn't just go to the brew pub.


2. What's your favorite burger place? Why?


In my town there are three "better burger" fast food joints. One is national (Five Guys), one is run by a local, well-established restaurant family who has done many other restaurants over the years, and the other is a relatively new place that started out in Portland.


Of the three I like the last one best, Little Big Burger. Its quarter-pound burgers are smaller in diameter at around three inches (hence the name). Some people complain about the size, but the pricing is proportional at $3.25. Also, not going crazy with the portion size reflects a more responsible dietary sensibility (I am always full but not overfull eating there), which can appeal to a certain demographic. It also has some gourmet touches that make you feel like you're getting that "better" experience - you can get goat or bleu cheese besides the standard cheddar and swiss, the bun is excellent, and the fries (which are amazing) are fried in truffle oil. Going for the trifecta of burger, fries and soda set me back $7.75, which seemed a bit high at first, but after eating the food thought it was totally worth it. If I want to save a little money, I also have no problem forgoing the soda.


If there were an In-N-Out here, that would be my go-to given the great value and quality.


I tried Five Guys and wasn't very impressed. The fries were good, but I didn't like the bun (too soft and crumbles in my hands), and the beef didn't have much flavor. The local place provided a similar experience - OK, but not enough to make me want to go back.


3. If you are looking for a burger, do you typically go fast food, Quick Service/Fast Casual, or sit-down?


I go to better burger places when I feel like splurging a little, so I don't insist on that experience every time I want a burger. So fast food chain is where I usually go, with Jack in the Box, McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King being my most-to-least frequented.


4. What's a good price point for you for a "better burger"?


If it's not a place where I'm waited on (e.g. a brew pub or restaurant like Red Robin), I would want to pay no more than $8 total for a burger, beverage and fries.


One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com

#8 of 40 Malcolm R

Malcolm R

    Executive Producer

  • 11,499 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 2002
  • LocationVermont

Posted July 10 2012 - 05:31 AM

We don't have too many of the burger chains around here (northern Vermont) other than McDonald's and Burger King, and a couple of Wendy's if you drive a distance. We just got our first Five Guys a few months ago. Good food, but very expensive. I've only been there twice so far. The last time, one of their regular burgers, regular fries, and regular soda set me back $12.25. Far too pricey to frequent on a regular basis for just a burger and fries. Their menu is also very limited. A chain with similar quality but with a price range under $10 for a full meal, would be more attractive to me. That's why I like Wendy's when I'm in that area. Otherwise, I'll usually end up at Burger King.
The purpose of an education is to replace an empty mind with an open mind.

#9 of 40 CameronJ

CameronJ

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 244 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 28 2002

Posted July 10 2012 - 05:38 AM

Have you considered Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle? Unless your are is loaded up on them, they seem to be a license to print money.

Unfortunately Chipotle is not a franchise - all stores are corporate. I would love to own some though - and this is coming from the guy who looked at the very first Chipotle (yep - store #1) when it opened and thought "why do we need a burrito place?". Now recognize that they moved into where my favorite ice cream place was, but talk about short-sighted. Going into why I would never step foot in a Chick-Fil-A would cause this thread to get shut down very quickly :)

I really like Red Robin, and they have a lot of "healthier" choices besides beef burgers. I have had both their turkey and veggie burgers and was very satisifed, and they have several salads I like as well. That being said, since I do not each much red meat, I usually splurge on a "real" burger when I go. They also make it easy to make special orders and have always accomodated any special requests, which is definitely not the case at fast food type burger places. They are crazy busy every time I go (and the servers manage to keep up) and seem to be doing well.

I'm a huge Red Robin fan. I just wish I could get them to cook my burger a bit less - "some pink" ends up medium well.

Also, not going crazy with the portion size reflects a more responsible dietary sensibility (I am always full but not overfull eating there), which can appeal to a certain demographic. It also has some gourmet touches that make you feel like you're getting that "better" experience - you can get goat or bleu cheese besides the standard cheddar and swiss, the bun is excellent, and the fries (which are amazing) are fried in truffle oil.

You've hit on a lot of what I'm looking for. Thanks for the insight guys - anyone else please keep it coming.

#10 of 40 DaveF

DaveF

    Moderator

  • 13,157 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 04 2001
  • Real Name:David Fischer
  • LocationOne Loudoun, Ashburn, VA

Posted July 10 2012 - 03:36 PM

All restaurants are fads, in a way. Popularity ebbs and flows. As this "better burger" theme has really only started recently -- didn't have these in the 80s -- they could go away in he future. But a generational fad could mean a good decade or two of business for you. And lower popularity could still be good income for you. Me, I'd open a Moes or Panera, since that's where eat most often. And they've got a varsity of options, including healthy, and not tied to "burger" :)

#11 of 40 Carl Miller

Carl Miller

    Screenwriter

  • 1,461 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 17 2002

Posted July 10 2012 - 03:56 PM

I don't think better burgers are a fad at all. I think if the burgers are good, moderately priced and the market isn't over saturated, it can become a sustainable business.


I love a good burger, but don't eat any from fast food places at all. Five Guys, which are really popular here, is awful in my opinion. We've got a good local burgers and steak restaurant that is my favorite burger place. They're $10.99 - $13.99 and worth every penny, and I think the price point is reasonable for the quality you get. They use (at least they claim to) a blend of two different beefs, hand form all their burgers, have 5 different bun options (portuguese roll, ciabatta roll, pumpernickel, english muffin, and whole grain)...and they have great toppings such as bacon brought in from a fairly well known smokehouse in upstate NY, and quality cheeses. Like many of the better individually operated places these days, they don't throw a 1 pound burger on your plate. Portions are reasonable. They also do other things a bit differently, such as offer several kinds of french fries including fries cooked in peanut oil which are amazingly good, and you can get mashed potatoes or stuffed potatoes instead of fries. They brew their own in house cherry soda, and offer a pretty big variety of sodas from small soda makers. You actually cannot get a Coke or Pepsi there. All fairly unique little things that make it a really good place to go.


Having said all that, our area is definitely filled with burger places. There are a lot of local individually owned pubs and restaurants that serve good burgers and our area also has at least one diner in almost every town. A Bobby Flays Burger Palace opened a couple of years ago which I think was a sign that the market for burgers was big around here. Hope this helps some!


Carl

#12 of 40 Scott Merryfield

Scott Merryfield

    Executive Producer

  • 10,345 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 16 1998
  • LocationMichigan

Posted July 10 2012 - 11:48 PM

We generally avoid the big franchise restaurants in lieu of local establishments when we want a "sit down" better burger or some other type of what I will call "quality pub food" for lack of a better term. The menu choices are more unique instead of cookie cutter, and the service just seems to be better, especially as you get to know the owner and staff. We usually get a better meal, too. We only frequent franchises when we need something quick, which wouldn't qualify as a "better burger", and will usually end up at Subway or Wendy's when possible. When we travel, we first try to find a local establishment before resorting to a franchise for a sit down meal, too.

#13 of 40 bryan4999

bryan4999

    Second Unit

  • 460 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 07 2012
  • Real Name:Bryan Forbes

Posted July 11 2012 - 08:57 AM

I love a good burger, but don't eat any from fast food places at all. Five Guys, which are really popular here, is awful in my opinion. We've got a good local burgers and steak restaurant that is my favorite burger place. They're $10.99 - $13.99 and worth every penny, and I think the price point is reasonable for the quality you get. They use (at least they claim to) a blend of two different beefs, hand form all their burgers, have 5 different bun options (portuguese roll, ciabatta roll, pumpernickel, english muffin, and whole grain)...and they have great toppings such as bacon brought in from a fairly well known smokehouse in upstate NY, and quality cheeses. Like many of the better individually operated places these days, they don't throw a 1 pound burger on your plate. Portions are reasonable. They also do other things a bit differently, such as offer several kinds of french fries including fries cooked in peanut oil which are amazingly good, and you can get mashed potatoes or stuffed potatoes instead of fries. They brew their own in house cherry soda, and offer a pretty big variety of sodas from small soda makers. You actually cannot get a Coke or Pepsi there. All fairly unique little things that make it a really good place to go.

Wow, that sounds great. I would go to a place like that rather than Red Robin if there was something like that near me.

#14 of 40 Carl Miller

Carl Miller

    Screenwriter

  • 1,461 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 17 2002

Posted July 11 2012 - 12:06 PM

Originally Posted by bryan4999 


Wow, that sounds great. I would go to a place like that rather than Red Robin if there was something like that near me.


It's a really good place. Funny thing is a few people I know who have gone there don't like all the options with the rolls and fries and soda etc. One of my friends I tool there once said ordering a burger shouldn't be that complicated. It's all individual preference I guess. Now that I see you and a couple of people like Red Robin, I'm going to have to check them out. They opened a place not too far from us maybe a year or so ago and I've never been there.


Carl

#15 of 40 DaveF

DaveF

    Moderator

  • 13,157 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 04 2001
  • Real Name:David Fischer
  • LocationOne Loudoun, Ashburn, VA

Posted July 11 2012 - 01:13 PM

Best burger I've had at a restaurant remains Hard Rock Cafe. They must use 80% beef, and cook medium / medium rare. Very, very rich burger.



#16 of 40 Keith Plucker

Keith Plucker

    Screenwriter

  • 1,006 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 04 1999
  • LocationSacramento

Posted July 11 2012 - 01:23 PM

1. What do you think of "better burgers" in general? Do you think its a fad?
I don't think it is a fad. That being said, without fail, the best burger places I know of, the ones with the most consistent loyal customers, are not franchises. The are single shops, or maybe 2 or 3 owned by the same people, that offer unique menus with all freshly made food.


2. What's your favorite burger place? Why?

I used to live in Huntington Beach. In that area, Slaters 50/50 was fantastic. Now in Sacramento, I would say either the Squeeze Inn or Dad's Kitchen (Dad's isn't strictly a burger place though). All these places had hooks that I loved. Slaters has a good selection of beer and a 50% beef, 50% ground bacon burger. They have since added a 100% ground bacon burger. Squeeze Inn has the skirt (). Dad's just makes great food like the Dad's burger. mac and cheese, deep fried garbanzo beans.


Theses places are all casual burger joints but they are more a sit-down type restaurant than a place like Carl's Jr or In-N-Out.


When I eat at a fast food place, I almost always eat at the actual restaurant. I will mention something about In-N-Out. I really do like their burgers/fries. For a large chain, they are great. But I almost never go to one because if I am eating at a popular time, the crowds make eating their a terrible experience. Too many people, too little parking. More so than any other fast food place I have ever visited.


3. If you are looking for a burger, do you typically go fast food, Quick Service/Fast Casual, or sit-down?

If I am looking for a quick meal while I am on the go (no advanced planning) any of the chains will do although I tend to lean towards Carl's Jr. However, if I am planning on eating out and I want a burger, I would never end up at one of the major chains or even a place like Five Guys or In-N-Out. It would be more of a sit down type place like Slaters 50/50 or the others I mentioned.


4. What's a good price point for you for a "better burger"?

At a major chain, with a burger, fries and a drink, if you are getting much past $7 it is too expensive. I try to have a coupon on me for Carls Jr. (they seem to always have a ton of them in my mail). For the sit down style place, for a burger, side, soft drink and maybe share an appetizer, around $12-15 plus tip. Maybe a bit more.



I don't know that much about franchise restaurants so I am not going to throw stones at that idea. I will say, from what little I have read on the subject, to make any real money with a fast food restaurant franchise, you have to own more than 1 store.


If it was my money, I would do some research, come up with my own menu and open my own shop.


Good luck on your venture! May fortune smile upon you. (or fill in a similar cliche Posted Image)


-Keith


As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. - Hunter S. Thompson, 1958, from cover letter he wrote for a newspaper job.


#17 of 40 CameronJ

CameronJ

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 244 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 28 2002

Posted July 11 2012 - 02:07 PM

Me, I'd open a Moes or Panera, since that's where eat most often. And they've got a varsity of options, including healthy, and not tied to "burger" :)

Not familiar with Moes, but Panera is a whole different story when it comes to getting a franchise. They are pretty expensive to build-out ($1m+) and they only do multi-unit (5+) deals. Too rich for my blood.

It's a really good place. Funny thing is a few people I know who have gone there don't like all the options with the rolls and fries and soda etc.

Its interesting, in my research of different places you get two extremes. On one side you get the places with at most 5 things on the menu, and on the other side those with 318,000 combinations. Lesson to be learned - you can't be all things to all people.

If it was my money, I would do some research, come up with my own menu and open my own shop.

Its an excellent point. I'm trying to balance out my natural risk-averse nature with my desire to go out on my own. Going with a franchise at least shows that someone has been successful with the concept. Thanks guys - this is all fantastic.

#18 of 40 Aaron Silverman

Aaron Silverman

    Lead Actor

  • 9,375 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 22 1999
  • Real Name:Aaron Silverman
  • LocationFlorida

Posted July 12 2012 - 06:32 AM

Cameron, what is your past restaurant experience? The Chik-fil-A at the local mall actually closed recently (and was replaced with a Popeye's). Of course, there's a standalone Chik-fil-A on the next block. Sadly, there are very few non-chain places at all around here, aside from Asian food. There are some regional sports bar chains with decent chow (three of which are called "Ale House!"). There are a few Five Guys, which I like but not as much as In-N-Out (the closest of which is thousands of miles away). I know that Five Guys meat can be a little dry, but I pile on the veggies so I don't taste it that much. :) To be honest, I really like the burgers at Chili's and TGI Friday's with lots of toppings. There's a new gyro place called Gyroville that's pretty good, and I like Moe's a lot too. Honestly, unless I'm in a hurry, I'm not going to pay $6-7 for a value meal at a place like McDonalds when for about $3 more I can take out a burger and fries from one of the aforementioned Casual Dining places and provide my own drink.
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#19 of 40 Sam Posten

Sam Posten

    Moderator

  • 15,610 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1997
  • Real Name:Sam Posten
  • LocationAberdeen, MD & Navesink, NJ

Posted July 12 2012 - 07:19 AM

The problem with Chik Fil A isn't their menu for most people, it's their politics. Let me add one more thumbs up for Moe's. I know they are expanding like crazy now.

"Sam, you are the biggest nutter we have here."

Blog: Navesink.net - My Flickr Stream - Dolby Atmos Discussion Thread - Updates at Twitter - Join the HTF Flickr Pool


#20 of 40 DFurr

DFurr

    Auditioning

  • 10 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 06 2010

Posted July 12 2012 - 12:57 PM

The problem with Chik Fil A isn't their menu for most people, it's their politics. .

Amen brother. You've got that right. We quit going to Chik Fil A when they started throwing huge money in the wrong direction. But....it's family owned and they can throw money at any group they want. No stockholders to answer to. Doesn't mean I've got to give 'em my money though.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users