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. _________________

Hot, Fresh Burger News

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McDonald’s: Lower Prices, Faster Ordering

McDonald’s is considering menu boards that present customers with lower prices on some core items and a limited “Mickey D’s best” selection at both the drive-thru window and inside counter.

The Wall Street Journal this week outlined some of the plans the company recently shared with its operators, including simplifying the drive-thru menu and strengthening its array of midprice items between $1.50 and $3. But BurgerBusiness.com has learned that advertising prepared for the company shows a new “Build Your Meal” approach to ordering that could be offered to both inside and drive-thru customers.
McDonald's Build Your Meal board

“Here’s to a new day,” one drive-thru-focused commercial begins. “Introducing lower prices on many entrees. From classic faves to premium tastes. It’s Mickey D’s best for a price that’s even better.”

Another commercial, focused on counter ordering says, “Now enjoy lower prices on classic tastes like the Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese. You can build a meal you love for a price that’s even less.”

“Build Your Meal” isn’t a customization format like “Create Your Taste” or “TasteCrafted.” It facilitates speedier ordering and service. Menu boards at the drive-thru or counter guide ordering: “Step 1: choose an entrée” from among core items such as Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Premium Chicken Sandwich or 10-pice McNuggets. Step 2: add side items. The choices are any size soft drink/sweet tea, medium fries,  side salad or dessert.

McDonald's Build Your Meal Drive-Thru

The choices are limited but it guides customers through assembling a combo meal with higher-margin sides and drinks. Those high-margin sides offset lower entree prices.

Also included on inside and outside menu boards is a new bundled multi-person Classic Pack option with two Quarter Pounders, two medium fries, 20-piece McNuggets and four sauces. A smaller Value Pack meal may also be offered.

Lower-priced “McValue Menu” items aren’t excluded. But on the drive-thru menu they’re listed below Happy Meal options. McCafé beverage options also their own menu-board panel.

McDonald’s menu boards are digital, so they could easily be rearranged to feature limited-time specials or core products other than those shown. I don’t know when or if this “Build Your Meal” approach could be adopted systemwide, and the company’s not saying what it discussed with its franchisees. But it’s clear that simplifying ordering and steering guests to more popular, more quickly prepared or more profitable items is what the chain has in mind for the “modern, progressive burger company” it is building.

New Burgers Benefit Jack, Shack

Both quick-service Jack in the Box and “fine-casual” Shake Shack and reported solid quarters and both were aided by introductions of popular new burgers as well as price increases. The latter indicates lessening consumer resistance to slightly higher checks, which can help all restaurants.

Buttery Jack burger

Jack in The Box’s new Buttery Jack burger

But the market remains highly competitive and sometimes edgy. Asked about the impact of the foray by Taco Bell and others into breakfast, Jack in the Box Chairman-CEO Lenny Comma noted that Jack has been in the daypart for a long time and that it will take rivals a long time to establish a serious presence there. He also laid down this challenge: “We know the space we play in and there’s no reason for us to change. We’ll stick to our space, but if folks encroach on our space, we’ll respond. You can count on that.”

For its Q2, ended April 12, 2015, Jack in the Box reported an 8.9% system increase in comparative sales. Company-stores’ 7.4% increase was the result of a 2.4% gain in transactions, 2.9% from mix changes and 2.1% from price. Comma called the ability to increase both average check and transactions “a real win.”

The primary drivers in the check-mix improvement were the premium-price Buttery Jack burgers that Jack in the Box added in January. These burgers have pre-seasoned patties and melted garlic butter. The Classic Buttery Jack is $4.49; the Bacon & Swiss Buttery Jack is $4.79. Comma said they were Jack’s most successful new product at least in the 14 years he has been with the company. Click here to continue reading New Burgers Benefit Jack, Shack

Bareburger’s Naked Global Ambition

Bareburger_BurgerFriesBareburger opened its first restaurant in 2009 in Astoria, Queens. The points of difference included a menu with all-natural, pasture-raised meats—including bison, elk and boar—and cage-free/hormone-free poultry plus more organic ingredients than are found in most burger joints. In the past six years, it has spread across New York City and recently opened in Toronto, its first location outside the U.S. As is clear from BurgerBusiness.com’s interview with founder and CEO Euripides Pelekanos, Bareburger has global designs.


When you first opened Bareburger it was something different on the burger scene. Do you find you still need to educate customers about your food?
It’s interesting but today we don’t spend as much time educating our guests as we did five years ago, which is a really nice thing. The mainstream, if you want to call it that, has caught on and there are no explanations needed. They just know the food is better for them. Even more important is that they know where their food comes from. It’s such a key thing for anyone going out to eat or to shop at the supermarket.

It also surprised a lot of people to go into a burger place and see different salads on the menu. Not just a “Caesar Salad.” You look at the salads at most burger places and it’s the same lettuce they use on their burgers, so maybe there’s a Chopped Caesar but little else. Ours have baby kale and baby spinach and cauliflower hummus, red quinoa and watermelon radishes. How many other burger places have watermelon radishes? Not too many.

Bareburger, Columbus, Ohio

Bareburger in Columbus, Ohio

I was more surprised that people said, “Wow, you have wild boar and elk and sometimes ostrich on your menu.” Beef still reigns supreme but we do have turkey, ground duck, elk, wild boar, bison—which is my personal favorite—and three types of veggie burgers.

What percentage of sales do meatless burgers account for?
Well, burgers in general are 55% of sales and 50% to 60% of that is beef. But veggie burgers are 10% to 12% burger orders, so one out of 10. Click here to continue reading Bareburger’s Naked Global Ambition

Victory for Veggie Burgers

Meatless burgers used to be menu negatives, offered to avoid the dreaded “veto vote” from a dining group’s  non-meat eaters. But meatless burgers now have become menu positives, present because more than just vegetarians order them.

South St. Burger Co. veggie burger

South St. Burger Co.’s Naughty Vegetarian burger topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon

“We’re carnivores at heart but people are becoming more plant-forward, especially in the last two years,” says Euripedes Pelekanos, CEO of the Bareburger chain, which offers sweet potato & wild rice, black bean and quinoa burger patties as well as beef, elk and other meats. “In New York City we have Meatless Mondays now, and I think for more and more people it’s Meatless Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.”

Meatless patties’ quality has improved and acceptance has broadened to the point where Canadian chain South St. Burger Co. created the Naughty Vegetarian burger: a meat-free patty topped with bacon.

Meatless burgers’ incidence on casual-dining restaurant menus increased 89% over the past decade, according to Mintel Menu Insights research. But limited-service restaurants are belatedly catching up: menu incidence has increased 40% since 2005. Click here to continue reading Victory for Veggie Burgers

McDonald’s Explains Sirloin Burger Campaign

Word is out that McDonald’s is reviving the Hamburglar character to market its new Sirloin Third Pound burgers. But he won’t be the product’s only pitchman. In an exclusive interview with BurgerBusiness.com, McDonald’s VP-Marketing Joel Yashinsky laid out all the elements of the campaign and explained the thinking behind them.

Mx Green field for McDonald's

“New Girl” star Max Greenfield will appear in 25 TV spot for Sirloin Third Pound burgers.

Why use a children’s character to promote an adult, premium product like Sirloin Third Pound burgers?

Well, the Hamburglar is forever young. He resonates with many people of all ages. So we thought we’d have a little bit of fun. We want to show our brand as a modern, progressive burger company and there’s no better time than with the launch of a 100% sirloin burger to bring out the Hamburglar and engage in a fun way with customers.

Predictably, some sites immediately mocked the Hamburglar character and approach. Did you consider that the campaign might not be understood as fun?
No, we didn’t. We knew that for the advocates for our brand, the customers who love our brand and those who remember characters like the Hamburglar, it would be fun and engaging. That’s what we’re excited about. While there are detractors out there, we’re really engaging with the fans. We’re seeing them excited about this approach and about the new progressive thinking with the character and they’re having fun with it. We want our customers to have fun with our brand.

We’ve opened ourselves up a little bit and we think that’s absolutely right. It ties in with our “Lovin’ It” and “Lovin’” campaigns and presents this great new product that we think customers are going to love when they try it.
Click here to continue reading McDonald’s Explains Sirloin Burger Campaign

McDonald’s Kale, Bag Tray & More

McDonald's Canada's kale saladsThe McDonald’s kale rumor apparently is true. Janney analyst Mark Kalinowski reported in March that the chain was looking to add kale to its menu. Today he reported that McDonald’s will sell three new salad bowls with kale in Canada. Twitterer @McD_Truth provided the photo at right. The varieties are “I’m Greek-ing Out,” “Head Over Harvest” and “Keep Calm Caesar On.”

But Reuters’ Lisa Bartlein reports that kale is on the Arches’ menu here, too. She reports that nine Southern California units are testing two new breakfast bowls, one of which is made with turkey sausage, egg white, kale and spinach. The other has chorizo and egg. Each is priced about $4.


McDonald’s II: During his turnaround talk, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook spoke often of the need to foster bright ideas. “We will be faster with innovation, smarter in taking risks, bolder with moves that drive transformation,” he said. Here’s an interesting idea from McDonald’s Hungary: the Bag Tray. As the TV spot from DDB Budapest shows, the top of the bag is removable, creating a tray for food.

McDonald’s BagTray from DDB Budapest on Vimeo. Click here to continue reading McDonald’s Kale, Bag Tray & More

Chinese Burger Chain Taking On NYC

While American burger concepts such as Shake Shack and Five Guys battle to win in the UK and Middle East, a Beijing-based burger concept will open its first U.S. location May 18, offering a menu created by a James Beard Award-winning American chef.

Chinese chain Uncle Sam's Signature Burger

Uncle Sam’s Signature Burger

Called Uncle Sam’s and claiming two locations in China, the concept is set to open a 5,600-square-foot restaurant at 307 Fifth Ave. in New York City, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The U.S. menu is the work of Bradford Thompson, now head of Bellyfull Consulting but a 2006 James Beard Foundation Award winner as Best Chef/Southwest for his work at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.

His menu shows a mix of Asian and American influences. Uncle Sam’s $8.95 Signature Burger: a beef patty topped with sautéed mushrooms, oyster sauce and Swiss cheese. The menus “Classics” include a Single 4-oz.-patty beef burger for $5.95 or a Double for $7.95. Both come with choice of cheese plus ketchup and pickles. A New York-style hot dog—with choice of sauerkraut, cooked onion, mustard and ketchup—is $4.95. Click here to continue reading Chinese Burger Chain Taking On NYC

BOTM: Chorizo is the New Angus

Looking over burger joints’ Burger of the Month specials for May, it’s clear that chorizo now has become an American burger-build staple. Quietly, chorizo—primarily the crumbly, Mexican style—has become a popular burger patty mix-in choice as well as a topping. Chains promoted their use of Angus beef as a specialty a few years ago until that became commonplace. Now it’s chorizo that’s making appearances on burger menus everywhere as a special ingredient. It’s one more way to get pork onto the plate.

Slater's 50/50's beef-chorizo-blend Mayo Burger

Slater’s 50/50’s beef-chorizo-blend Mayo Burger

This month’s special at Burger Shack in Whitehall, Pa., is a Southern Burger that starts with a patty of ground beef mixed with taco seasoning that’s stuffed with Cheddar. It’s topped with more Cheddar plus guacamole and then chorizo. Slater’s 50/50 locations in Southern California have a “Mayo” Burger for Mayo. The patty is 50% Brandt beef, 50% chorizo and it’s topped with American cheese, an over-easy egg, hash browns, pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle sour cream.

Chef Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey in Philadelphia uses chorizo as a topping for its El Poblano Burger special for May. Queso Qaxaca, adobo, avocado and refried beans also sit atop this burger. Rehab Burger Therapy in Scottsdale, Ariz., now offers a beef/chorizo-blend patty on any its burgers.

Burger 21's Gruyere Burger

Burger 21’s Gruyere Burger

Of course, one signal that chorizo was mainstreaming was McDonald’s recent test of a Chorizo Burrito (which was really chorizo-spiced chicken instead of pork) in many markets. And bagel chain Bruegger’s recently added a Chorizo Jack breakfast sandwich.

And then there’s Twisted Root Burger Co. in Dallas (and other markets). For May (while it lasts) it has introduced what it calls a DORK Burger. That’s a 50% duck/50% pork patty with choice of toppings.

You may recall that one BurgerBusiness.com burger trend for 2015 was greater use of vegetables and even fruit as burger toppings. Check out the Gruyère Burger the Burger 21 chain is featuring: Certified Angus Beef with Gruyère and freshly seared asparagus, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, whole-grain honey mustard and an over-easy egg. Look, too, at The Apple Bottom Burger menued for May at Between the Bun in Greenwood, Ind. That’s a burger patty between two slices of Granny Smith apples, with smoked bacon and a house creamy Dijon drizzle. It’s happening.

As always, these are just a few of the dozens of Burger of the Month specials at burger joints for May. The complete list is here. Give a look.