When you turn cheeseburgers into Wisconsin Cheeseburgers, you’re not just adding extra flavor, you’re adding the prestige of award-winning quality. Quality your customers will pay a premium for.
Click HERE to visit the Wisconsin Cheese Burger page and get the recipe for the Mediterranean Lamb Burger with Wisconsin Feta shown below!
Visit the Killer Burger Recipe Vault
Want the recipe for the Cream Cheese Stuffed Garlic Burger shown above? Looking for burger recipes from Bobby Flay, Jamie Oliver, Umami Burger or Michael Symon’s B Spot? Visit BurgerBusiness.com’s Killer Burger Recipes vault. _________________
Dugg Burger, which opened in February 2015 in Dallas, is a different process, not just a new brand. Reversing the standard build of piling toppings on the burger patty, Dugg Burger digs out the crown of the bun and puts chosen toppings there. Meanwhile, the burger patty finishes grilling and is topped with choice of cheese before the parts come together. BurgerBusiness.com spoke with Scott Spence, who has held marketing roles at Church’s Chicken, Taco Bell and Taco Bueno and is one of four restaurant-industry veterans (with Jeff Braunstein, Martin Hennessy and Jeremy Samson) who created the concept.
Dugg Burger sounds like it could have been one of those ideas born on a napkin at a bar where friends say, “Hey, you know what we could do…” You know, that’s not far from what happened. There are four of us and we were all corporate guys who can’t help ourselves: We talk business all the time. We’d talk about what we’d do if we had our own place. We realized we had an idea of what we’d want to do. There came a time when two of us were in-between jobs and decided it was time to move on this idea we’d been doodling on.
It was time to give it a shot. It was an iterative process over lunches and drinks over the years.
Did people tell you your idea wouldn’t fly or that the burger category is oversaturated? We did hear some concerns that we might be coming into the category late. Some questioned our specializing in just one thing. But there are restaurants out there that do one thing well and have thrived.
And the burger category is by far the biggest, so we feel confident about specializing in a category this big.
Because you’re different, how do you educate customers about the process? Is it signage? We have little signage, actually. Our whole concept is built around simplicity. Our mantra is “Simple Done Exceptional.” So we barely have a menu board. One of the four of us was in the restaurant at all times to help when it opened and now we’re at the point where a lot of customers are repeat diners.
It can be as difficult to develop a truly new burger promotion as it is to create a new burger. But here are four promotions for July that caught my attention because they’re different and because they share the love for burgers that infuses this site. Maybe there’s an idea here adaptable for your burger joint.
This first one’s hard to duplicate, but it earns extra innovation points. Carl’s Jr. is distributing $1 off coupons in-store for its Most American Thickburger that include a temporary tattoo on the back. Peel off the plastic cover; apply the tattoo to your skin; press with a damp cloth; peel off “and instantly become more American.”
The tattoo itself is a clever play on the American theme and the burger: It’s an eagle with hot-dog wings, a burger body and potato-chip feathers (the Most American’s ingredients). Only in America.
I don’t know why more burger joints don’t pair up, like sister cities, to do promotions. The owners of The Oinkster in Los Angeles and Grill ‘Em All in Alhambra, Calif., like each other and share a fondness and an aptitude for over-the-top burgers.
The Oinkster’s tribute to Grill ‘Em All
The Oinkster’s July Burger of the Month is its version of Grill ’Em All’s La Parka Burg: A 6-oz. Angus Beef patty topped with house-made carnitas, chimichurri, Oaxacan cheese and Doritos-crusted tomatillo slices on a brioche bun.
Grill ‘Em All’s tribute to The Oinkster
And Grill ‘Em All is featuring its version of the winner of The Oinkster’s Burger Week event last month. Grill ‘Em All calls it The Oinkster’s Devourment aka The Fabulous Rougeaus with Cambazola cheese, mushroom duxelles, cherry gastrique, frizzled onion and arugula on a potato bun. Find a burger joint in another town to work with! Offer their Burger of the Month or a version of their signature burger. BurgerBusiness is, of course, a good place to find joints like yours.
There’s an opportunity for an anniversary promotion every year. The Barley House in Concord, N.H., is celebrating its 15th and has done its share of LTOs and menu specials. So it has been inviting customers to submit their “favorite throwback menu item,” which it is featuring on the 15th of each month. April’s was the French Dip Sandwich with Swiss Cheese and Rosemary Au Jus.
Finally, TGI Fridays has launched its “Buy A Burger, Give A Burger” promotion, which allows burger gifting via social media. The receipt for any its Hand-Crafted Burgers includes a code that can be entered at the “Jump Burger” site. The customer gets a free burger offer to send to friends via social media or email. The first friend to snag it gets a free burger at TGIF.
Additionally, TGIF is expanding its burger menu on July 22. Joining in are a Smoke Stacked Burger, Jack Sliders, Sicilian Stacked Burger and a Spicy Chorizo Burger.
Total U.S. advertising spending declined 4% in the first quarter of 2015, but restaurant spending dipped even deeper to 4.9%, according to data from Kantar Media.
Jack in the Box’s Buttery Jack burgers were heavily advertised in Q1.
Restaurants were the fifth-largest category during the quarter, spending $1.601 billion (or $17.8 million a day), down from $1.684 billion a year earlier. But 2014’s Q1 included a Winter Olympics that spurred spending ($600 million). Only telecom and pharmaceuticals showed a gain in 2015’s first quarter.
Restaurant industry ad spending peaked in Q3 of 2013, when the burger chains were still trying to outdo each other with a succession of new menu items. During that quarter, restaurants spent $1.733 billion, more than 8% above category spending in the most recent quarter.
For full-year 2014, restaurants spent $6.463 billion, an increase of just 0.1% over 2013.
Kantar’s data shows declines in 16 of the 21 media types it charts, including a 9.2% drop in spending for network TV and a whopping 32.3% crash in Sunday magazine spending. Consumer magazine spending was down 7.3%; local newspaper ad sales were down 16%.
This is the first quarterly report from Kantar that includes spending for Paid Search advertising. This includes text ads on the Google and Bing search engines. This category was up 7% in Q1. Spending for Online Display, which measures desktop display ads only and excludes video and mobile ad formats, was down 8.7% compared to last year.
On the hunt for incremental customer traffic, McDonald’s is looking at flavored McCafé hot coffee. The burger chain has served flavored iced McCafé coffees since 2007, a year after it introduced its Premium Roast coffee, and it offers French Vanilla and Hazelnut flavors in the bagged coffee it sells in supermarkets in collaboration with Kraft. But hot coffee options in its restaurants are limited to regular and decaf.
However, in at least one U.S. market the chain is offering brewed Caramel, Hazelnut and French Vanilla McCafé coffees, a McDonald’s spokesperson confirmed to BurgerBusiness.com. The coffees are offered for $1.39 for any size cup. A TV commercial supports. The spokesperson said flavored coffee is a Local Option menu item being promoted in one market but the beverages are not now being introduced nationally.
The scope of the sales opportunity flavored coffees present makes them an appealing product for McDonald’s to consider.
Packaged Facts puts 2014 retail and foodservice coffee sales at $48 billion, with foodservice accounting for 77% of that. In 2010, former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said coffee accounted for 6% of U.S. sales, although it likely is larger now due to expansion of the McCafé brand. But even 6% of McDonald’s 2014 domestic sales of $35.4 billion is more than $2.1 billion, showing the drink’s importance.
McCafe ground coffee at retail already includes French Vanilla and Hazelnut flavors.
When it introduced flavors of its VIA instant coffee in 2010, Starbucks valued the flavored-coffee market at $377 million and said 11% of American households purchase flavored coffee. McDonald’s would welcome as many of those consumers as possible.
“We’re enhancing the breakfast experience by creating more of a coffee culture through high-quality McCafé products,” Thompson told analysts during a quarterly earnings call in January 2014, a year before Steve Easterbrook replaced him as CEO. “We know that coffee drives the visits at our breakfast time,” Thompson added. Breakfast accounts for an estimated 25% of the chain’s sales.
Competitors Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks sell some flavored hot coffees but other burger-menu competitors such as Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box do not. Breakfast latecomer Taco Bell offers only a Cinnabon Delights coffee creamer to add to the coffee it serves.
Meanwhile, CNBC reported on Friday that McDonald’s plans to increase the pre-cooked weight of its Quarter Pounder burger patty to 4.25 ounces from the current 4 ounces in order to give diners a “juicier and more flavorful burger,” according to internal documents reviewed by CNBC.
Of course, the alternative to adding something completely new to the menu is to shuffle on-hand pantry ingredients to create something familiar that doesn’t complicate operations. Burger King is especially adept at this, juggling toppings to create Whopper variations.
Wendy’s now shows its skill with this culinary strategy by taking toppings from its Baconator burger, moving them to a side dish and creating Baconator Fries. These are Wendy’s natural-cut fries given a drizzle of warm Cheddar sauce, applewood-smoked bacon and, finally, shredded Cheddar. The price is $1.99.
The Baconator half-pound double cheeseburger has been one of Wendy’s most successful menu franchises. Introduced as an LTO in 2007, revived in 2009 and then made permanent, Baconator has been given several flanker brands, including the smaller Son of Baconator.
No one seems to love the Baconator like a Kiwi. Wendy’s New Zealand operation, which earlier offered a Mozzarella Streaky Baconator, now is promoting a three-item “Team Baconator” line of variations (below): Chickenator, Baconator Mushroom Melt and a new chicken Spiceanator.
Burger chains all put their menus on diets but you know how it is: summer comes and good intentions melt away. A parade of new items is marching onto burger-chain menus or into their test-market pipelines, and no chain has been more active than McDonald’s, which took an oath to streamline its menu.
⇒ As reported yesterday, McDonald’s is testing a pulled pork sandwich in Indiana. This comes after local markets were given the option to add new Shakin’ Flavor Fries to their menus. Some markets are trialing a Signature Double Burgeras part of a Lovin’ Value Menu. Having already upgraded its grilled chicken with the Artisan product, McDonald’s also has been testing a new recipe for its crispy chicken: Buttermilk Crispy Chicken. That has tested in Delaware and Arkansas and should roll wider soon. A Bacon & White Cheddar McMuffin is getting a tryout in Chicago.
Then there are new McCafé items: Real Lemonades (classic, frozen strawberry and regular strawberry lemonades); new Peach and Raspberry Sweet Teas; and the Green Apple Smoothie in test in Chicago. Horchata and Oreo Frappés are in many markets, too.
Jack in the Box’s Double Jack, in test
⇒ Burger King started with a new Xtra Long Pulled Pork Sandwich, but was hungry for more. Now comes the A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Cheeseburger: two quarter-pound patties topped with thick-cut bacon, melted Mozzarella cheese, lettuce, onions, and A.1.® Thick & Hearty sauce on a toasted, brioche-style bun.
Last month, Burger King was testing $1.99 Grilled Hot Dogs and $1.49 Corn Dogs in Michigan and Maryland, as reported by Consumerist.
While other burger chains scramble to expand customization, Roy Rogers has been there and done that for more than 40 years so it occasionally moves in the other direction. The 50-store Mid-Atlantic chain is reviving its Tumbleweed Burger as a limited-time special that doesn’t need a stop at Roy’s iconic Fixin’s Bar, where diners have always topped their burgers just as they desire.
The Tumbleweed Burger is a quarter-pound patty topped with onion straws, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and sharp Cheddar cheese on a warm kaiser bun. Each element has its reason to be there.
“Because we sell our burgers undressed and let people build to suit, periodically we offer LTO burgers where we sell a fully dressed sandwich with items we don’t have available in the dining room,” says Jeff Mulliken, director of procurement for Roy Rogers Franchising Co. “It gives people the convenience of a sandwich they can eat right then without dressing it and it allows us to offer toppings—like the fried onion straws, a hot topping—that we don’t have on our standard Fixin’s Bar. And it gives some menu variety, which you need. If you have loyal guests, you need to keep them entertained.”
The Tumbleweed’s sharp Cheddar isn’t a choice offered on the Fixin’s Bar and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce brings some added glow. “We use a lot of recognized brand ingredients,” says Mulliken. “Sweet Baby Ray’s is a well-thought-of brand; people see it at retail and recognize it as a premium item. When they see it in a burger setting they’re impressed that it’s not a mystery product, it’s one that, when they’re feeling flush, they buy at home.
“We use Hormel Cure 81 ham on our Double R Burger and have for many years. We haven’t bragged enough about it. When you’re running an LTO you want it to say something and send a quality message. Using a recognized brand does that.”
Roy Rogers’ marketing plan skewed heavily to chicken in the first half, reflecting poultry prices that were friendlier than beef. Beef prices have come down some but “we’re committed to beef,” Mulliken says. “We’re not going to go all year without promoting burgers just because beef is expensive.”
Mulliken sees the burger marketplace polarizing between value-priced “bottom feeders” and higher-price, higher-quality brands like Roy Rogers. “That segment of consumers who have a few bucks in their pockets is far more discerning about quality,” he says. “They’re expecting a better experience and you need to make sure you’re delivering that. There’s a lot of people serving a pretty good burger.”
At the year’s halfway point, it’s clear the burger marketplace is changing. Fewer new independent burger concepts are blossoming but what were fresh indies a few years back are rapidly morphing into regional chains.
Hickory, Plano, Texas
For example, Bru Burger in Indianapolis was a member of BurgerBusiness’s Class of 2012. Since then it has opened in Lexington, Ky., will open soon Carmel, Ind., and reportedly plans to open in Cincinnati. Burger Bach was an original in 2012, a New-Zealand-inspired burger concept off the beaten path in Richmond, Va. Now it has locations in Glen Allen, Va., and Durham, N.C. Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville, Va., also in the Class of ’12, is now outside Washington, D.C., in Clarendon, Va., and likely isn’t finished growing. None of these brands is.
The energy driving the burger business is coming from concepts such as these as well as young-and-growing chains such as Burger 21, BurgerFi, Bareburger, The Burger’s Priest, Byron, Shake Shack, Umami and many others. McDonald’s won’t grow this year; Burger King’s U.S. count has declined for several years.
That doesn’t mean the burger category’s cupboard of new concepts is bare. Here are 18 concepts that opened their doors in the first half of the year. They display the diversity of the category, ranging from small quick-service burger joints to pub-style burger bars.
Burger Circus, Hong Kong
Burger Bandit Lynbrook, N.Y.
Famous initially for being owned by Kim Kardashian pal Jonathan Cheban, Burger Bandit wants to be known more for burgers. These include a “bigger than a slider but smaller than a burger” Burger Bandit for $2.29. A full-size Classic cheeseburger is $5.29. There’s a “Boardwalk-Style” hot dog, beer and wine.
Burger Circus Hong Kong
Burgers are an international language and Burger Circus is fluent. The American Acrobat burger is a 5-oz. beef patty with Wisconsin Cheddar, lettuce, tomato and house sauce. Order The Whole Show and that beef patty is topped with Wisconsin Cheddar, pickled beetroot, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo and a fried egg.
The June Burger of the Month at Flipdaddy's restaurant is The Alex Quebec. That's a beef blend patty with french fries, house beef gravy, Cheddar cheese and house-made onion jam on a pretzel bun. To see the full list of June's Burger of the Month specials around the globe, click Burgers of the Month .