US better burger concept BurgerFi will look to open 10 sites in London before expanding outside the capital, MCA has learned.
The brand opened its first UK restaurant in the Wembley Central shopping scheme two weeks ago and is lining up a second more centrally located London site.
The concept founded in Florida in 2011 operates c80 sites in the US and last year signed an agreement with Ground Round Ltd, led by Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood’s son Jamie, to open sites in the UK.
Global ambassador Steve Lieber told MCA BurgerFi was attempting to revive the Golden Age of the American hamburger before its mass commoditisation by fast food companies caused a deterioration in its quality.
He said: “We saw how the burger had gone from a beautiful, fire engine red product, to a dingy product like a grey hockey puck, and so we identified an opportunity in a natural burger.
“They were doing them right in the beginning. If you had a hamburger from McDonalds in the 1970s, at that time, the meat was meat, the potatoes were potatoes.
“That’s what we wanted bring back. When people think of great American food they think of a cheeseburger, fries and coke. We thought how could we give them the best possible?”
Lieber said BurgerFi’s ‘never never’ approach to steroids and hormones made it appealing to families worried about what they feed their children, and that people were willing to pay slightly more for better quality ingredients, cooked from fresh.
He said the group also gets closely involved in local communities with sponsorship of sport teams, music concerts and theatre groups.
“That’s why people accept us”, Lieber said. “We’re not just a chain from Florida that’s opening in London. We want to be London’ BurgerFi, and Leeds’ BurgerFi and other communities, creating jobs, opportunities and donating to causes.”
On the brand’s UK expansion plans, Lieber added: “We would like to start with 10 in London and build from there. We build on how well received the brand is, we don’t set targets and build the other way. We like to build on how busy we are and which towns clamour. On social media people send us emails and star campaigns for BurgerFi in the towns, send letters from mayors and politicians. You never how many stores we could create.”
Lieber also praised Jamie Wood, and fellow Ground Round directors Constantine Kulukundis and Amy Wright for their passion and pedigree in the restaurant business.