Burger Wisconsin aims to build on 27 years of local history

Burger Wisconsin provides amazing food and has a very loyal following

Burger Wisconsin provides amazing food and has a very loyal following

Burger Wisconsin has been famous for gourmet burgers since long before the corporates and their marketing people discovered the phrase. Founded back in 1989, the brand’s freshly-cooked food and quality ingredients made it a firm favourite all round the country. Now, with a refreshing new look, the good old days are set to come back.

Bought last year by Mariposa Restaurant Holdings (the company behind the phenomenally successful Mexicali Fresh franchise), Burger Wisconsin has set in motion an innovative programme to restore people’s favourite local burger place to its rightful position while increasing profitability for franchisees.

‘Burger Wisconsin still provides amazing food and has a very loyal following,’ says Conor Kerlin, co-founder of MRH.  ‘When we bought it we knew it was a good, solid brand. Our job has been to figure out what Burger Wisconsin does best and re-energise the brand to make it relevant in today’s market, rather than making change for the sake of change. Gourmet burgers are a hot, high-growth category so our goal is to keep the things that make Burger Wisconsin unique and introduce new tools to empower our franchisees to grow.’

the community’s favourite place

Conor continues, ‘As we looked at the history of Burger Wisconsin, we realised that its point of difference is its strong degree of localisation. Within the smaller towns and suburbs of New Zealand, Burger Wisconsin has been a staple of the community for ten, maybe twenty years. This is a huge strength. We want outlets which are representative of their local community, rather than outlets imposed as part of a corporate chain. When customers come in, we want them to know the people cooking their burgers and serving them. After all a generation has grown up working in their local Burger Wisconsin, and now their kids are doing the same today.

‘Our aim is to embrace those things that make Burger Wisconsin unique while adding the best bits of a successful franchise model. Traditionally, burgers have been a take-away “grab and go” concept, but not Burger Wisconsin. We’re more about great food, great place, which is absolutely on trend with the current focus on fast casual dining – the fastest-growing part of the eating out market right now.’

making a contribution

With this in mind, the company is reaching out and asking local people to contribute to the story of their local Burger Wisconsin and give it a greater sense of belonging. ‘The design is changing, yes, but it’s so our seating areas become more comfortable and attractive, somewhere you want to bring your family,’ Conor says. ‘It’s all about atmosphere and experience – the music, sounds, feeling and environment to attract people to relax and enjoy our premium quality food.’

Ah yes, the food. ‘That’s always been Burger Wisconsin’s greatest drawcard – our point of difference is that we serve beautifully fresh, locally-sourced quality ingredients with amazing flavour every day. Our meat is all 100 percent beef, lamb, fish or chicken sourced from New Zealand suppliers with the highest ethical standards.

‘We believe in looking after the planet as well as our health, so Burger Wisconsin makes every effort to be a sustainable business and become leaders in environmental awareness locally as well as globally. Our mission is to leave the smallest environmental footprint possible, and we are working with the group Conscious Consumers to ensure we use the very best packaging and products.

‘In a fast-changing world, quality matters. Word of mouth is the best advertising – if you try a great product today you tell everyone, and social media is like word of mouth on steroids so getting people talking of their great, local experience is a priority. We have a very effective social media strategy in place for Mexicali Fresh already, and know that creating local fans who rave about Burger Wisconsin too will bring great results for our franchisees.’

people, passion, profits

‘Burger Wisconsin is a profitable opportunity and our aim is to make it even more so,’ says Conor. ‘As well as refreshing the 22 existing Burger Wisconsin stores, we’re keen to find people passionate about food to open new ones all around the country. Setting up a new outlet requires funding of between $250,000 and $350,000 +gst but remember, this isn’t about cost – it’s about return on investment, and that can be very good indeed.

‘We are looking for those who want to do something different with their lives and use our great system, great model and the Burger Wisconsin opportunity to create their own destiny in the locality of their choice. We don’t necessarily want chefs, or people with hospitality experience, although we welcome them too – above all, we are keen to attract high energy people excited at the prospect of starting a business and prepared to put in the elbow grease to make it work.

‘If you are the right fit, we’ll do everything we can to help you succeed– and if you want to open more outlets further down the track, we’ll help you do that, too. Call us and find out more.’