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There are two kinds of burgers in this world: The ordinary fast-food version that you would order at a drive-through window and the chef-driven better burger, a gourmet treat based on customization and sold at a higher price point.
Now Front Burner Brands is adding a new layer to the burger hierarchy with Burger 21, a fast-casual franchise concept that is aiming to best the “better burger,” according to Dan Stone, 36, vice president of franchise development for Front Burner Brands.
“There are numerous players in the segment; however a lot of them fall into the fast food category, which we are not, or the better burger category, which we are inspired by,” Stone said of Burger 21.
He credits Five Guys Burgers and Fries with advancing the better burger concept, but Burger 21 differentiates itself by offering more choice to the consumer with menu variety and eliminating what Stone calls the “veto vote” that often occurs in families when one or more members of a party don’t like what’s being offered on a menu.
Burger 21 is avoiding the veto, Stone said, not only by offering such things as a variety of side orders, fresh salads, hand-dipped shakes and floats, and a kids’ menu, but also a choice of non-beef burger patties, including chicken, seafood, turkey, and veggie. As the name suggests, there are 21 burger offerings.
“We capitalize on the love affair with beef burgers, but take it to another level,” Stone said. “You go in and choose what toppings you want for a customized build-your-own burger without the gourmet price tag.”
The concept has been receiving a good deal of press from trade publications and from Forbes magazine, which named Burger 21 among “10 hot new restaurant chains from established brands.”
New Franchise From Established Brand
Burger 21 has the strength behind it of Front Burner Brands, which is also the management company for The Melting Pot. It has been franchising for 28 years.
“We have taken all of our best practices and applied them to Burger 21,” said Stone, a Penn State graduate whose franchise experience comes from his long employment with Winegardner & Hammons, working in the hospitality industry for brands such as Marriott and Embassy Suites.
One of the target demographics for Burger 21 is young mothers, who are interested in healthier options when it comes to burgers for their children.
“You will see a tremendous number of females and kids at our restaurant and 40 percent of the burgers we sell are non-beef,” Stone said. “We have 16 items made of beef and, yet, 69 percent of revenue is coming from other items.”