Is Baton Rouge’s burger market ready for another contender?
In addition to the standard fast food restaurants, there are many specialty burger joints. Shake Shack opened in November – with two Mooyahs, Curbside, four area locations in Burgersmith, two Smalls Sliders, BurgerIM, Smashburger, Atomic Burger, Five Guys and more.
Not to mention, 11 years later, Fat Cow closed its doors in July.
Even so, Michael McGill, president of Bobby’s Burgers (the burger joint backed by celebrity chef Bobby Flay), said the franchise has its sights set on Baton Rouge.
At the franchise headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, McGill said the company is “very serious” about the Baton Rouge market and hopes to find the right people to make it happen at Discovery Day in New Orleans on Feb. 9.
Bobby’s Burgers will open its sixth franchise at the Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans on February 10. A seventh Bobby’s Burgers is scheduled to open in Phoenix in March.
McGill said the qualifications for opening a Bobby’s Burgers franchise include finding a person or organization who:
- In-depth knowledge of the restaurant and franchising industry;
- Has a successful track record as a top-tier operator;
- Meet franchise financial requirements;
- Real estate knowledge to develop multi-unit operations.
“Baton Rouge is a major economic center in the South,” McGill said. “Bobby has a unique culture in the way he creates his menu. We think Baton Rouge has its own flavor and enjoy Bobby’s creations.”
What’s so special about Bobby’s burgers? A lot, according to McGill, who explained that Flay himself is the company’s research and development arm. McGill said Flay’s insight into American style resulted in seven special burgers, including a veggie burger the celebrity chef developed in his “Beat Bobby Flay” competition.
Other burgers include the Crunchburger (American cheese, a thin layer of potato chips and Bobby’s sauce), the Brunch Burger (egg, bacon and American cheese), the BBQ Smokehouse Burger (bacon, crispy onions, chipotle BBQ sauce and American cheese) and the Nacho Burger (queso, tomato salsa and pickled jalapeños). There’s also the fried chicken sandwich with aggie amarillo mayo, slaw, and pickles, and the aforementioned veggie burger (American cheese, BBQ mushrooms, chickpeas, and quinoa).
“The great thing about creating a menu is that Bobby has spent his entire career establishing himself in different parts of the country,” McGill said. “His travels around the country really inspired him.”
Another big draw, according to McGill, is the accessibility of restaurants.
“Not everyone has access to some of Bobby’s’ other restaurants, like Mesa Grill, but Bobby’s Burgers is a place for everyone to try — an intersection of creativity and approachability,” McGill says. “Everything is custom. People can choose the temperature of their burgers using our state-of-the-art grilling technology.”
The restaurant also serves chips, onion rings and milkshakes, with McGill adding that Flay’s favorite is the pistachio milkshake.
The chain also launched a six-item breakfast menu earlier this year, though not all locations serve breakfast.
“It was a chef-driven concept. He was involved in the decision of how we positioned the brand from a marketing standpoint,” McGill said. “Bobby was involved with the photo and storyboard process for our upcoming website rework. He was intimately involved in every stage of the concept.”
The restaurant comes in four different formats and price points, including non-traditional locations in casinos and airports, McGill said. The cost of opening a franchise can range from $500,000 to $1.5 million.