Burgerim looks to take a larger bite out of the U.S. fast-casual market
as its concept becomes more popular as a healthy alternative.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Knighthouse Media
Burgerim debuted its three-ounce burger patties with creative flavor options, truly unique toppings and sauces 18 months ago in the United States and the concept has been a sizzling success ever since. “We take you back to a sensible size. We have right-sized the burger,” CEO Tom Meiron says. “It’s the burgers we had when I was a kid; not these massive ones today. We went back to that and it’s a healthy portion size.”
The Encino, Calif.-based company began franchising in the United States in 2016. “We did the opposite of what most franchisors do, our concept started internationally and we brought it here to the United States,” Meiron notes. “We opened our first restaurant 18 months ago and we have 40 open today with 155 more restaurants under construction. As of today, we are scheduled to open about 200 locations by the end of this year.”
Our concept allows customers to choose from an uno combo (1 burger, fries and a drink), duo combo (2 burgers, fries and a drink), trio (3 burgers, fries and a drink) or party box (16 burgers). Each Burgerim burger is as unique as the person ordering it with three buns, six sauces, 11 patties and nine unconventional toppings to select. “No one has our variety,” Meiron says. “There’s nowhere else you get to choose a Wagyu beef, 28-day dry-aged beef, lamb, turkey, salmon, falafel, Spanish beef or chicken patty for your burger. We consider ourselves a gourmet QSR and casual-dining concept.”
Burgerim is an attractive option for customers looking for a healthy alternative to the massive burgers served today. “We appeal to families with young children because their parents don’t want to serve them a half-pound burger, all the way up to the older crowd who is used to the right-size burgers they grew up on,” Meiron says. “We appeal to a wide range of guests.
Building a Dream
Burgerim’s business model caters to both experienced restaurateurs, or prospective franchisees who want to get started in the restaurant business. “We have a much smaller footprint, so the acquisition and construction costs are quite a bit less than a traditional 3,000- or 4,000-square-foot space,” Meiron says. “We are at the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to store sales per square foot.”
The company prides itself on helping its franchisees become successful. “We are a fast-growing brand and a unique concept that’s taken off everywhere,” Meiron notes. “We take franchising seriously and spend more time and money on our franchisees than anyone other franchisor. We value them as true partners.”
Burgerim is not focused on “seeing how fast we can grow,” Meiron says. Rather, the company wants to ensure the success of each franchisee and is selective in choosing each new partner. “There is so much interest in our brand that we aren’t having the problem of attracting more franchisees,” he adds. “We are selective because we are trying to build a family.”
Burgerim is looking for franchisees that have the financial wherewithal to come into the brand and are passionate about the restaurant business. Meiron has been in the restaurant business for 45 years, mostly with national chains and says passion makes all the difference. “I have seen franchisees who have the financial wherewithal not make, it while those who put together enough money because they really wanted to open a Burgerim franchise were very successful. Passion matters” he adds.
Once a franchise fee has been paid, Burgerim helps guide its franchisees in the right direction with a list of potential financing sources nation-wide that they can use. After franchisees have secured financing, Burgerim’s real estate department takes the lead to help franchisees find the best location. “We won’t let them get into a bad location,” Meiron adds.
Burgerim appeals to a broad spectrum of customers and Meiron says “it’s somewhere that anyone can come in and find something they love.” Because of that, the company will open locations in diverse areas with different cultures and backgrounds. “But it’s not just limited to that,” he adds. “Through our site selection process, we look to make sure the restaurant is easy to get in and out of, is visible and is a place where our guests want to come in on a date and enjoy a glass of wine or beer and a burger, bring the family for a night out, or feed the soccer team.”
Of course, Burgerim’s real estate department also runs the demographics of each location to ensure the area will be accepting and that the concept is right. “We help ensure franchisees have the tools they need to be successful,” Meiron adds. “Because we set them up for success, territory restrictions are based on the specific area as three miles would be too much to handle in Los Angeles, but maybe just right in a rural area of Texas, for example.”
Once the lease is signed, Burgerim’s approved architects design the restaurant with the brand in mind. Franchisees typically use their own general contractors or tap into the company’s nationwide network of partners to complete the build. “We are a phone call away to answer any questions,” Meiron notes.
Each restaurant is unique because of the size of the space and whether it’s freestanding or an end cap in a strip mall, for example. Inside, customers are greeted with the familiar U-shaped bar, social media wall, the pass-through window where they can sit and watch the cooks work in the kitchen. “The size and the dimensions of the space we as important as the look and feel. We keep the same interior signage and under bar signage, which is unique to Burgerim,” Meiron says. “We figure out how to make it work in the space available, another advantage to the Burgerim franchisees. Our flexibility keeps building and operating costs down”
Burgerim provides extensive training to its franchisees and helps in the acquisition and training of employees to ensure the location is prepared before and after opening. “Franchisees are assigned an experienced franchise business consultant before opening who will become their advisor and go-to person moving forward,” Meiron says. “They work with our franchisees on a one-on-one basis and anything at all goes through them. We provide everything to our franchisees in terms of guidance and help.”
Moving forward, Burgerim plans to continue expanding throughout the United States and internationally. As the company continues to gain momentum and exposure, it is seeing an increased interest from major celebrities that want to join the family and endorse the company. Professional sports teams also have contacted Burgerim and want our product sold in their stadiums.
“We don’t set numbers or targets to hit,” Meiron notes. “We grow smart and open where it makes sense as we increase in popularity. We are a unique concept and a dynamic brand that’s extremely popular right now. It’s a great time for experienced restaurateurs or potential franchisees to join the Burgerim family.