Fatburger

Issue Spring 15


When Lovie Yancey created the biggest, juiciest hamburger anyone had ever seen in 1952, she knew there was only one name for her company: Fatburger. “It started off as a small hamburger shack with great burgers that were made right in front of you,” Vice President of Operations James Newell says. “Lovie started a hamburger stand right next to her house using only fresh ingredients. It was a walk-up restaurant and earned the nickname the last great hamburger stand.”

Since its inception 62 years ago, the Beverly Hills, Calif-based company has grown to more than 150 locations worldwide. The Fatburger menu offers its signature burgers that range in size from a small third-of-a-pound beef patty to an XXX large with four beef patties. All burgers come standard with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, relish, onions and mustard. Add-ons such as cheese, bacon, chili, eggs, grilled mushrooms, guacamole, grilled onions, jalapenos and yellow peppers are also available.

Fatburger offers a variety of sides to pair with its burgers, including onion rings, chili, Fat fries, skinny fries and chili cheese Fat fries. Its menu also includes grilled chicken sandwiches, turkey and veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips and salad.

To respond to market trends, Fatburger created a new Skinny Fatburger that puts all the toppings and condiments in the middle of two patties, which serve as the bun. “We are seeing a very large movement for that item and it is a big promotional item for us this year,” Newell says. “It keeps us relevant for the customer who wants to eat lighter, but not deny themselves a Fatburger.”

Each Fatburger location offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Because Yancey loved music as much as a good burger, patrons hear rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, hip-hop and classic soul inside the restaurants. “It’s a lively environment with great music playing,” Newell says. “It’s an interactive experience because we call out your order to the line cooks, deliver the food to the table and interact with you on the dining room floor. We are just shy of being a full-service restaurant.”

Co-Branding Appeal
Fatburger acquired Buffalo’s Café, an Atlanta, Ga.-based buffalo-style chicken wings and sauces company in 2013 to grow the brand and complement its offerings. Fatburger created a fast-casual model of Buffalo’s Café, which it calls Buffalo’s Express and offers wings, wraps, salads and fries.

“What we have done is co-branded Buffalo’s Express with existing Fatburger locations and have seen an increase in same-store sales of 10 to 30 percent, depending on the location,” Vice President of Marketing Thayer Wiederhorn says. “It has been a great synergy and push without a huge capital investment. It is a big differentiator for us among other fast casual burger restaurants.”

Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., Fatburger’s parent company, was drawn to Buffalo’s Café because it helped expand its restaurant portfolio with chicken offerings, and Buffalo’s Café already had international locations in the Middle East.

Global Expansion
Fatburger began franchising in the late 1970s, first in the United States and then it opened its first international location in 2005 in Denman Island in British Columbia, Canada. “More than half of our unit count is international and in more than 32 countries to date,” Newell adds. “We will expand further into Asia and Europe in 2015 while continuing to grow in the Middle East.”

Two years after its first international franchise opened, another franchisee opened a location in Dubai, UAE. “It was that franchise partner that opened up the fast casual market to the Middle East,” Wiederhorn says. “Once Dubai opened, since it’s the hub for it in the Middle East and North Africa region, we received a plethora of interest in franchising the surrounding countries.”

Moving forward, more than 325 Fatburger franchise locations will be built worldwide over the next one to three years. The company will break into Europe in 2015 and looks to expand further into the Asian and Latin American markets, as well. “We are trying to grow and franchise as much as we can around the world,” Wiederhorn adds. “We plan to continue to grow, support our franchisees and offer Fatburgers and chicken wings wherever our customers are.”

Brand Importance
Franchising internationally has become a major focus for Fatburger, but it does not come without its challenges. Wiederhorn explains that there are a number of operational and distribution challenges with sourcing products, as well as menu development. “For example, in India beef is not allowed so we had to develop an entirely new menu with a ton of veggie and chicken offerings,” he says. “The menu is great and has been well received, but there are definitely unique challenges that come with the territory of entering different markets.”

The company guarantees its patrons will have the same experience no matter what location they are in. “Even with the different menu offerings in India, the quality and environment is still the same,” Newell adds. “It’s the same burger experience there as you would get in Las Vegas.”

Fatburger ensures that its international franchises stay consistent with the brand by shipping the same U.S. beef it uses to its locations overseas or finding a local solution that matches its taste profile, Newell says. “It’s about walking that line between Western quality of the food and brand and at the same time being respectful and cognizant of localizing the offerings for each culture,” he explains. “We make sure we are matching ingredients in terms of freshness and taste so it’s a consistent experience.” When Lovie Yancey created the biggest, juiciest hamburger anyone had ever seen in 1952, she knew there was only one name for her company: Fatburger. “It started off as a small hamburger shack with great burgers that were made right in front of you,” Vice President of Operations James Newell says. “Lovie started a hamburger stand right next to her house using only fresh ingredients. It was a walk-up restaurant and earned the nickname the last great hamburger stand.”

Since its inception 62 years ago, the Beverly Hills, Calif-based company has grown to more than 150 locations worldwide. The Fatburger menu offers its signature burgers that range in size from a small third-of-a-pound beef patty to an XXX large with four beef patties. All burgers come standard with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, relish, onions and mustard. Add-ons such as cheese, bacon, chili, eggs, grilled mushrooms, guacamole, grilled onions, jalapenos and yellow peppers are also available.

Fatburger offers a variety of sides to pair with its burgers, including onion rings, chili, Fat fries, skinny fries and chili cheese Fat fries. Its menu also includes grilled chicken sandwiches, turkey and veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips and salad.

To respond to market trends, Fatburger created a new Skinny Fatburger that puts all the toppings and condiments in the middle of two patties, which serve as the bun. “We are seeing a very large movement for that item and it is a big promotional item for us this year,” Newell says. “It keeps us relevant for the customer who wants to eat lighter, but not deny themselves a Fatburger.”

Each Fatburger location offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Because Yancey loved music as much as a good burger, patrons hear rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, hip-hop and classic soul inside the restaurants. “It’s a lively environment with great music playing,” Newell says. “It’s an interactive experience because we call out your order to the line cooks, deliver the food to the table and interact with you on the dining room floor. We are just shy of being a full-service restaurant.”

Co-Branding Appeal
Fatburger acquired Buffalo’s Café, an Atlanta, Ga.-based buffalo-style chicken wings and sauces company in 2013 to grow the brand and complement its offerings. Fatburger created a fast-casual model of Buffalo’s Café, which it calls Buffalo’s Express and offers wings, wraps, salads and fries.

“What we have done is co-branded Buffalo’s Express with existing Fatburger locations and have seen an increase in same-store sales of 10 to 30 percent, depending on the location,” Vice President of Marketing Thayer Wiederhorn says. “It has been a great synergy and push without a huge capital investment. It is a big differentiator for us among other fast casual burger restaurants.”

Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., Fatburger’s parent company, was drawn to Buffalo’s Café because it helped expand its restaurant portfolio with chicken offerings, and Buffalo’s Café already had international locations in the Middle East.

Global Expansion
Fatburger began franchising in the late 1970s, first in the United States and then it opened its first international location in 2005 in Denman Island in British Columbia, Canada. “More than half of our unit count is international and in more than 32 countries to date,” Newell adds. “We will expand further into Asia and Europe in 2015 while continuing to grow in the Middle East.”

Two years after its first international franchise opened, another franchisee opened a location in Dubai, UAE. “It was that franchise partner that opened up the fast casual market to the Middle East,” Wiederhorn says. “Once Dubai opened, since it’s the hub for it in the Middle East and North Africa region, we received a plethora of interest in franchising the surrounding countries.”

Moving forward, more than 325 Fatburger franchise locations will be built worldwide over the next one to three years. The company will break into Europe in 2015 and looks to expand further into the Asian and Latin American markets, as well. “We are trying to grow and franchise as much as we can around the world,” Wiederhorn adds. “We plan to continue to grow, support our franchisees and offer Fatburgers and chicken wings wherever our customers are.”

Brand Importance
Franchising internationally has become a major focus for Fatburger, but it does not come without its challenges. Wiederhorn explains that there are a number of operational and distribution challenges with sourcing products, as well as menu development. “For example, in India beef is not allowed so we had to develop an entirely new menu with a ton of veggie and chicken offerings,” he says. “The menu is great and has been well received, but there are definitely unique challenges that come with the territory of entering different markets.”

The company guarantees its patrons will have the same experience no matter what location they are in. “Even with the different menu offerings in India, the quality and environment is still the same,” Newell adds. “It’s the same burger experience there as you would get in Las Vegas.”

Fatburger ensures that its international franchises stay consistent with the brand by shipping the same U.S. beef it uses to its locations overseas or finding a local solution that matches its taste profile, Newell says. “It’s about walking that line between Western quality of the food and brand and at the same time being respectful and cognizant of localizing the offerings for each culture,” he explains. “We make sure we are matching ingredients in terms of freshness and taste so it’s a consistent experience.”

 


Fatburger