Burger 21: Going Beyond Better Burgers

Burger 21, the latest concept opened by Front Burner Brands, which also operates Melting Pot Restaurants and Grillsmith, started selling franchises a year ago and has moved confidently into the fast-casual burger market.

“Within the $69 billion-dollar quick-serve and fast-casual burger market, the better-burger category is the fastest growing segment. Burger 21 provides high-quality food at a good price point in a welcoming environment, while offering a tremendous variety that eliminates the ‘veto vote,’ the vote that would veto a visit to a burger establishment due to a lack of choices. 40 percent of the burgers we sell are non-beef and 69 percent of revenue at Burger 21 comes from non-beef menu items,” says Dan Stone, vice president, franchise development.

Burger 21 established its “beyond the better burger” category by offering 10 beef burgers, 10 non-beef burger options, one monthly specialty burger, three slider options, gourmet beef hot dogs, numerous sides, main dish salads and a full array of desserts that includes shakes, floats, sundaes and cookies.

“As part of Front Burner Brands, we have 28 years of experience with franchise systems. You’d be hard pressed to find a young burger concept with this kind of infrastructure and service behind it.”

“This is not your typical build-your-own burger menu,” says Stone. “We have a corporate chef and a research and development team behind the menu. As part of Front Burner Brands, we have 28 years of experience with franchise systems. You’d be hard pressed to find a young burger concept with this kind of infrastructure and service behind it.

“We help in all areas of the business. With site selection, our VP of real estate has more than 20 years of experience developing our restaurants. He has established relationships with developers in all the states we are in (The Melting Pot is in 36), plus he has a national network of brokers who can negotiate on our behalf.”

The company’s design team uses its expertise to design restaurants suited to the spaces they are in. “We’ve learned what wears well, what materials work. We can design and have plans submitted for permits on a Burger 21 in as little as 30 days,” says Stone.

Front Burner Brands leverages years of experience to train franchisees and management teams in Tampa before stores open, then supports the franchisees on-site through and beyond opening with its “road warrior” team. “We provide support for the critical moment of truth when you open in your community. We know how key that first impression is,” says Stone.

After opening, franchisees work with the company’s franchise business consultants, who help them comply with company standards, review P&L, help with marketing and make sure franchisees employ the company’s own best practices.

Front Burner Brands also helps by leveraging its buying power for the franchise partners. “We have a purchasing team that watches commodity prices and the futures market to lock in the best pricing for our franchisees. That’s just one example of something another young concept would not be in a position to offer,” says Stone.

Burger 21 seeks qualified candidates nationwide. “We look for experience with multiunit systems and experience in food service and franchising, but we will talk to candidates with solid business backgrounds and good business acumen,” says Stone.

And while the preference is for multi-store deals, Stone says the company knows that a new concept may have to prove itself a bit. “We are open to single-unit deals. We can’t demand multi-store deals from day one.”

In the past year, Burger 21 has sold 13 franchises to eight groups in seven states, from Florida, up the East Coast and into New York. “We are growing with a hub-and-spoke approach,” says Stone, “but with our infrastructure, opening in Dallas is no more challenging than opening in Miami.

“40 percent of people eat a burger at least once a week. Burger 21’s fast-casual, beyond the better burger concept is here to stay.”

For more information about franchising opportunities with Front Burner Brands, visit www.frontburnerbrands.com