Wisconsin Cheese Adds Value

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 Wisconsin Asiago Veggie Burger with Kale Parmesan Caesar Salad shown below!


Better Bacon Means Better Burgers

Go to the JONES FARM RECIPE PAGE to get the Dry Aged Cherrywood Beer Burger recipe for May.

Visit the Killer Burger Recipe Vault

Want the recipe for the Double Cheese Poutine 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. _________________

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Grind Modern Burger’s Comeback Story

GrindModern_Burger1 This time Rick Boyd believes he has the right match of concept and location. In March he closed his Grind Modern Burger restaurant in Eagle, Idaho, but vowed to relocate and return. On October 10, Grind reopened in a former brewpub in downtown Boise. Boyd reevaluated the concept, keeping some elements while discarding others and adding new ones. He spoke with BurgerBusiness.com about starting over as a burger brewery and about the concept’s expansion plans.

How long had the Eagle location been operating before you closed it down?
Eight months. The demographics in Eagle didn’t line up with what we were trying to do. It’s an older bedroom community that skews toward retirees. There aren’t a lot of young people. It was more of a high-end, cocktail-oriented crowd.

Why had you opened there?
Well, it’s an under-served market. There aren’t a lot of restaurants there but there’s a sizable population in that section of town. We just didn’t appreciate that they were all in their 70s and went to bed at 7 o’clock.

So we had an opportunity to move to downtown Boise in a space that has its own brewery and pick up a liquor license, which is very hard to come by in Idaho. It all has worked out really well for us. It’s an established location and we got a good price on it, so it was a good move all around.

You had the chance to reevaluate everything and reengineer the concept?
Exactly. We streamlined the menu and made upgrades to some things we kept. And during the eight months we were closed I spent a lot of time traveling around the country and researching other concepts, picking apart what they do and thinking about how we might implement or improve on their ideas. I was all over California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Texas.GrindModern_Storefront

Were there standouts that come to mind?
Well, we visited Umami Burger. We really liked the presentation of their burgers. Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Dallas was one of the few, after Umami, that has a full bar. So we looked at their cocktail program. Most were craft-beer driven, which worked out well since we scored the brewery here. We came away with great insights that we tried to incorporate in our own way.

Your menu remains burger-focused?
Oh yeah. The Eagle menu included pizza, mac ‘n cheese and things like that. We’ve done away with all that and maybe 90% of the menu now is burgers. We have some appetizers, entrée salads, fries but mostly it’s our Niman Ranch burgers.

We also have a veggie burger that we developed in house. It’s beet and brown rice based. The one we had before was a mushroom-based burger and we never were a big fan of it and we always wanted to rework it.

We adjusted our burger grind a bit. With the higher volumes we’re projecting we aren’t able to grind all our meat in house. There isn’t room for the size of the equipment that would need. But there’s a local company that handles our beef grinding.

Our salmon and chicken burgers we’re still grinding in house. It’s a 100% salmon burger with no fillers. We use the salmon trim to make a binder that’s just a salmon mousse with spices ground in. It’s a fantastic product. It looks beautiful when it comes off the grill. Click here to continue reading Grind Modern Burger’s Comeback Story

McDonald’s, MythBuster Launch Food Q&A

McDonald’s has enlisted professional skeptic and former “MythBusters” co-host Grant Imahara for its latest attempt to counter what it says are some of the persistent myths about the quality of its food. The “Our food. Your questions” campaign begins today (10/13) with TV spots showing real people’s questions and an invitation to consumers to pose questions via social media. Imahara is featured in a series of webisode videos addressing consumers’ persistent doubts and questions.

Former "MythBuster" Grant Imahara seeks answers to questions about McDonald's food.

Former “MythBuster” Grant Imahara seeks answers to questions about McDonald’s food.

“We know some people—both McDonald’s fans and skeptics—continue to have questions about our food from the standpoint of the ingredients or how food is prepared at the restaurant. This is our move to ensure we engage people in a two-way dialogue about our food and answer the questions and address their comments,” Kevin Newell, EVP-chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s USA, told BurgerBusiness.com in an exclusive interview.

“The work we’ve done in the past has been one-way. We’ve made nutrition information about our food available for a number of years. But people  had to go find it. Now we’re inviting consumers to go on a journey with us to get those questions answered.”

McDonald’s earlier launched an “Our food. Your questions” website in Canada and then in Australia. Newell says the ongoing Canadian effort has seen “some very good results from the standpoint of how people perceive McDonald’s food.” Why will this effort succeed better than past campaigns? Newell says the key differences are its “two-way dialogue, the behind-the-scenes view into what really happens from farm to fork and the opportunity to bring in a MythBuster with great credibility in getting to the truth.”

"Does McDonald's even sell real food," asks one person in one TV spot from DDB Needham, Chicago.

“Does McDonald’s even sell real food?” asks one person in one TV spot from DDB Needham, Chicago.

Consumers are encouraged to pose questions via a new webpage, Twitter and Facebook. Webisodes will appear on all those media, along with YouTube. Newell said the company has set up a “command center” where “as questions come in we’ll have our people addressing them in real time.”

The first webisodes take Imahara to a Cargill plant where the McDonald’s beef supplier shows what goes into the chain’s burger patties. Just beef. No “pink slime.” The flash freezing of those patties is explained and defended as a way to retain rather than lose flavor. “Ask your questions and I’ll find out the answers,” Imahara says at the episodes’ close. He will visit other McDonald’s suppliers to answer questions about McNuggets, McRib and other food products.

“We get more questions about our beef than anything else; that’s why we’re starting off with beef,” said Newell. “This is the topic that gets the most energy with our customers so we’re taking it on right away.”

“What frustrates us is that when people don’t know us they tend to judge us,” Newell added. “We’re saying don’t judge us before you know us, and we’re giving you an opportunity to know us like you’ve never had before.”

McDonald’s UK Names My Burger Winners

McD_MyBurgerWinnersAfter five months—five times longer than the last UK election campaign—the winners of McDonald’s My Burger crowdsourcing competition have been announced. Each of the five winning burgers will get a one-week tenure on the menu between Oct.15 and Nov. 18, 2014, guaranteeing the burger chain that its LTOs will have some built-in popularity. It’s an idea McDonald’s easily could bring here in 2015.

Beginning in May, consumers were invited to try out a digital burger builder, allowing them to create their own burgers from among 80 possible ingredients (including 20 different bun choices). Each concept—and there were 98,325 submissions—could be seen online and voted for (a total of 213,573 votes were cast). In June, the field was narrowed to 12 by a panel of judges that included England rugby legend Phil Vickery MBE, McDonald’s representatives, an independent expert and a member of the public.

In announcing the competition, Alistair Macrow, SVP-Chief Marketing Officer for McDonald’s UK, said: “Customization and digital engagement are becoming an integral part of how consumers interact with companies and we want to continue to innovate as a brand. That’s why we’re giving our customers the unique chance to design their own burger online with the potential for it to sit side-by-side with the likes of the iconic Big Mac. To canvass the public’s support and pass the taste test of our judging panel, customers will have to think about what looks, sounds and tastes great.”

The first of the winners, joining the menu on October 15, is the Big Uno, a cheeseburger with double cheese, bacon and red onion. The chain isn’t divulging full ingredient lists for the winners yet, but the other four winners are the Sweet Chili Fiesta (chili sauce, bacon and pepper cheese); The Ultimate Supreme (with Swiss cheese on an oblong roll); McPizza Pepperoni Burger (pepperoni and Italian cheese); Big Spicy Bacon (bacon and pepper cheese).

McDonald’s does share a few interesting facts about the 98,325 burger creations submitted:

  • 22% were “classic” burgers
  • 20% had barbecue sauce
  • 11% had Tex-Mex flavor profiles
  • 9% were “super sophisticated” in ingredient choices
  • 9% had pickles
  • 8% had spicy ingredients
  • 2% had pineapple

[Adendum: Click here to see the My Burger winners in Sweden; Go here to see the five finalists in the Build Your Own Burger contest at Luxe Bar in Springfield, Mass.]

Johnny Rockets Eyes Retail as ‘Lifestyle Brand’

Johnny Rockets toasters or steak knives? It’s possible. The California-based chain has announced a new Johnny Rockets At Home program that will extend its brand to retail freezers, housewares, music and more. Orlando-based The Blackwood Group will represent the brand for licensing. This comes shortly after Johnny Rockets announced four new Route 66 prototypes for its restaurants, including a drive-in-movie concept, a drive-thru concept, a food truck and a mobile pop-up restaurant. A fast-casual Johnny Rockets Express concept also is part of its emergence as a “lifestyle brand.” BurgerBusiness.com spoke with James Walker, Johnny Rockets’ chief development officer, about the ambitious plans.

You’ve been so active, moving the brand into several new arenas. Is there a danger you will dilute the Johnny Rockets brand?
That’s an interesting phenomenon with Johnny Rockets. We have brand awareness that I would say, arguably, is more like what you would see with a brand with 2,000+ restaurant locations. So we have phenomenal brand awareness but our footprint is still quite small. We’re 330 stores and we have rabid fans in our customers base. So I would say we’re a long way way from the dilution problem.Johnny Rockets At Home

It’s something we talk about, certainly. With the new concepts, the CPG [consumer package goods] products, we’re making sure that we’re making long-term, wise decisions now to avoid that. But that’s not going to be a daily concern for some time. We have lot of brand space.

Does the Johnny Rockets At Home program involve more than just food?
It does. When you think of Johnny Rockets, the things that jump into most people’s minds are going to be our burgers, our chili cheese fries, our shakes. But we’re a lifestyle: We’re fun, we’re entertainment, we’re music. I guess you could call us retro. So hard goods like center-of-the-table items themed after Johnny Rockets, small appliances or things that carry on that heritage of music and fun make sense for the brand. Click here to continue reading Johnny Rockets Eyes Retail as ‘Lifestyle Brand’

McDonald’s Adding BYO Kiosks in Australia

McDonald’s is testing next-generation technology for build-your-own burgers that it plans to install throughout Australia over the next 12 months.

A McDonald's exec shows "A Current Affair" how the kiosk works.

A McDonald’s exec shows “A Current Affair” how the kiosk works.

For its BYO testing in Southern California, the chain is using an iPad-size screen mounted to the wall or ordering counter. But in one restaurant in western Sydney, Australia, McDonald’s has installed a tall, standalone touch-screen kiosk at which customers can choose all ingredients for the their burger and pay with a credit card there or with cash at the counter.

Diners can build a “Create Your Taste” custom burger beginning at AU$8.95 (US$7.80), with some add-ons carrying additional charges. Users also can choose to make their order a small or medium Create Your Taste Value Meal with fries and drink for AU$11.45 (US$9.98) or AU$11.95 (US$10.42), respectively.

Customers have the option of brioche or crusty bun or no bun. The next choice is the number of 110 gram (3.9 ounce) Angus patties desired, with additional patties at AU$1 each. Next option is choice of cheese and number of slices, followed by optional bacon, egg or cooked egg toppings (at AU$1 each). Sauces such as barbecue or chipotle mayo can be chosen. Fresh ingredients such as tomato, lettuce and Aussie favorite sliced beets carry no additional charge, but guacamole, grilled mushrooms, grilled pineapple or tortilla strips are each 50¢ additional. Click here to continue reading McDonald’s Adding BYO Kiosks in Australia

Playing Chicken: Burger King Cuts Nuggets Price

Burger King today is slashing the price for a 10-piece serving of its Chicken Nuggets to $1.49, dealing a double blow to McDonald’s, where Chicken McNuggets carry Monopoly game pieces and where “core products” such as McNuggets have been a marketing focus.

BK Nuggets_1.49_400The limited-time offer cuts the price for Burger King’s Nuggets to nearly one-third the $4.29 price for 10 Chicken McNuggets. McDonald’s Dollar Menu & More offers a 20-piece McNuggets for $5, but Burger King now offers that many for just under $3.

Packaging for the 10-piece Chicken McNuggets has two game pieces for McDonald’s recently relaunched Monopoly promotion. The 20-piece McNuggets box has four game pieces. Burger King is betting that consumers will opt to save money rather than try to collect all four railroad pieces once again.

Burger King makes it clear this price cut is a competitive tactic as well as an effort to provide consumers with value. “With the growing consumer demand for chicken menu items, we wanted to offer our guests an aggressive deal rivaling anything our competition has ever done,” Eric Hirschhorn, Chief Marketing Officer, North America, says in a release announcing the price reduction.

10-piece McNuggets have Monopoly game pieces.

10-piece McNuggets have Monopoly game pieces.

During the July 22 Q2 conference call with analysts, McDonald’s President-CEO Don Thompson emphasized that the chain’s rebound depends on traditional products such as McNuggets and Big Macs as well as new menu items. “We need to see baseline improvements in all core products as well as a boost over the baseline based upon the new products that we implement,” Thompson said.

Burger King is having fun tormenting McDonald’s Monopoly game. As reported here earlier, in Australia, where it operates as Hungry Jack’s, Burger King advertised that it would honor Monopoly food-prize winners.

Chicken McNuggets have been an important, iconic menu item for McDonald’s since their introduction nationally in 1983. The chain has fooled with them very little since, although this summer it tested Shakin’ Flavor Chicken McNuggets. Like the Shakin’ Flavor Fries it also has tried, the McNuggets test served them in a bag for shaking with Spicy Buffalo, Garlic Parmesan or Zesty Ranch flavorings.

October Burger of the Month LTOs: Standout Sauces

Amid all the expected Oktoberfest, Thanksgiving and Halloween influences on this month’s Burger of the Month LTOs at burger bars it’s easy to overlook one particular creative channel that many share: sauces.

House-made sauces have become key differentiators for signature burgers that give a menu an identity. They also lend prepared burger builds sophisticated appeal that can withstand the “build your own” push. Why go BYO when you can order one of these October Burger of the Month specials with their distinctive sauces, ingredients and flavors? [The complete list of October BOTMs can be found here.]

Wahlburgers, Hingham, Mass.; Fall Delight Burger: Turkey patty, Vermont Cheddar, roasted butternut squash relish, wilted spinach and warm apple butter.

Wahlburgers' Fall Delight

Wahlburgers’ Fall Delight

Buckeye Beer Engine, Lakewood, Ohio; Fall Harvest Burger: Beer Engine’s own half-pound burger topped with two slices of applewood-smoked bacon, grilled rainbow chard, sweet corn chutney, roasted pumpkin seeds and a sun-dried tomato aïoli. Served on a butter toasted bun and served with house chips and fried pickle.

Slater’s 50/50, Southern California; The Cubano: A 2/3-lb. turkey patty, Swiss cheese, smoked pulled pork, pickled red onion, banana-rum mustard and fresh mint, served on thick sliced sourdough.

Deemer’s American Grill, Laguna Niguel Calif.; Gouda Burger:All-natural Angus beef, smoked Gouda cheese, bacon-onion relish, wild arugula, tomato, and herb aïoli.

Blue Door Pub, St. Paul, Minn.; Hullabalucy: Burger stuffed with sweet-potato mash and blue cheese, topped with maple fluff aïoli, resting upon a smash of sweet potato mash. Click here to continue reading October Burger of the Month LTOs: Standout Sauces

This Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers

Welcome October! September was a bit, well, boring on the burger front so it’s nice to see burger creativity reassert itself. I’ll round up the Burger of the Month specials soon, but here are this week’s most intriguing burgers:

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants in California isn’t known for its burgers but they’re in the Halloween spirit with the $13.99 Frank’N’Burger, which the chain says is “pieced together with the delicious parts of various other burgers, entrees and side dishes.” What you get are a ½-lb. Angus patty, two beef franks, two strips of bacon, a fried egg, American cheese, onion strings, jalapeños, Farrell’s Sauce and a Jacobs Ladder (pickle).

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants in California isn’t known for its burgers but they’re in the Halloween spirit with the $13.99 Frank’N’Burger, which the chain says is “pieced together with the delicious parts of various other burgers, entrees and side dishes.” What you get are a ½-lb. Angus patty, two beef franks, two strips of bacon, a fried egg, American cheese, onion strings, jalapeños, Farrell’s Sauce and a Jacobs Ladder (pickle).

For everyone who has tried but failed to get a burger joint to make a truly rare burger, Chicago’s DMK Burger Bar presents the Bloody Burger: Steak tartare, Dijon mustard, red onion, cornichons, garlic aïoli, vinegar chips and a fried egg.

For everyone who has tried but failed to get a burger joint to make a truly rare burger, Chicago’s DMK Burger Bar presents the Bloody Burger: Steak tartare, Dijon mustard, red onion, cornichons, garlic aïoli, vinegar chips and a fried egg.















Click here to continue reading This Week’s Most Intriguing Burgers