From a Lowly Burger Joint to One of The Busiest Burger Chains In Town

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From a Lowly Burger Joint to One of The Busiest Burger Chains In Town

The Burger House is a casual eatery that specialises in fried chicken delicacies. The co-owner, Basanta Tamang Lama, although young, is the definition of a restauranter. His experience in the food business started when he moved to Kathmandu. Here, he opened his first restaurant, The Burger House and Stick Food, which was followed by The Burger House and Barbeque Station. When asked why all his restaurant names have the unifying element of Burger in it, he says, “Well, I believe that Burger is the new mo:mo. This generation goes for burgers like the preceding generation went for momos.”

 

Practical Learning

“The best preparation for me to open this restaurant was probably my prior experience in working at someone else’s restaurant,” says Lama. In his early twenties, when Lama was on his way to Afghanistan for employment, he got stuck at Dubai, where he ended up working as a cook. He quickly learnt the ins and outs of the servicing industry while working at few restaurants there, and also learnt to adapt situations with his customers and suppliers that called for patience.  

 

The Idea

Once he decided to start his own restaurant in Nepal, Lama started developing recipes. He learnt to make fried chicken from a friend who used to work at a high-end restaurant in Kathmandu. Further, he would go out to eat at several exclusive restaurants in Kathmandu and analyze everything from the buns used in the burgers to the kind of sauce served. One thing he realised during his burger search was that almost all the places he ate at were significantly priced. Just one burger with fries would come around to costing a clean three hundred rupees- at the least. Lama was confident in what he had learnt. Not only did he know he could make food better than other restaurants, but he also knew he could serve it at a lower price. With this in mind, he set out to open a restaurant.

 

Getting Started

Finding a good location can be the most challenging aspect for a startup restaurant, but it is also the most important. Most restaurants have a bright storefront, but when it comes to The Burger House and CFC, the location they chose for their first branch was intriguingly unconventional. At a time when Kathmandu was seeing a rapid growth in the tertiary sector, finding an appropriate location was becoming more and more difficult for Lama and the team. This is when they considered the unusual idea of renting out a godown at Sankhamul to turn it into a restaurant. With the massive foot traffic generated by a thousand or so students and shoppers every day, the bustling roads of Sankhamul made for the perfect place to open an eatery. And with a little imagination and a lot of effort, The Burger House team was able to transition the drab looking godown into an ambient, spacious interior.

 

The Struggle

The first four months following the inception of the Sankhamul branch was the most difficult time for Basanta Lama and his partners. In scout for quality, they had gone over the initial budget of 60 lakhs and invested 90 lakhs on their restaurant. On the day of their inauguration, they distributed ice cream and slushie of over 30 thousand rupees in hopes of cultivating a customer base. They even facilitated their customers with free home delivery service and gave discounts on final bills to ensure customer loyalty. Despite all these efforts, however, the money was not coming in. The situation escalated to a point where they had to pay the employees out of their own pockets.

Moreover, since they were operating in a clustered location of already established fast food joints, they had a lot of competitors; Competitors who were also playing the role of their biggest critics. “They thought we were just a bunch of young people throwing stones and passing time. They expected us to last only a few months before we took our hobbies elsewhere”, says Lama talking about his competitors. But unfortunately for Lama’s competitors, that is not what happened. Slowly, people started realising how much cheaper and better the food at The Burger House was and started coming to eat there instead of going to other restaurants. From going door to door to promote their restaurant, The Burger House was suddenly bustling out hundreds of meals a day. Sometimes, customers had to go back since there would be no seats to accommodate them.

Lama focused on serving his guests, provided them with an affordable yet amazing menu, and once he realised it was time to expand, he listened to his customers and opened outlets at the most convenient locations possible- Mid-Baneshwor, Dillibazar, and Thamel with a new one at Patan that is under construction. The four restaurants that are in operation boast over 120 employees, of which 30 work at the Sankhamul branch alone. To ensure consistency across all branches, all employees are trained at Sankhamul first and then sent to work at a specific branch later. Lama himself also tries to visit all the locations once a day to ensure that the set standard of his business is being maintained. Even with over 700 customers coming in every day, the employees have proved themselves competent over and over by creating an ambience that aim to please everyone.  

 

Future Plans and Vision

With 5 outlets in less than 18 months, The Burger House has quickly positioned themselves for an accelerated growth. In the near future, after ensuring a full-fledged operation at its Patan branch, The Burger House is looking to construct a central kitchen at Bouddha which will also have its own outlet. Since training all the employees at Sankhamul even after such a level of growth is not viable, the central kitchen will play an important role in the standardisation of the food across all its branches.

 

 

Comments

  • Guest
    Suvash bikram shah Saturday, 29 July 2017

    Nice work sir.

  • Guest
    mydarlingfood Wednesday, 23 August 2017

    The photo of the Crunchy Fried Chicken has been extracted from one of my works. Please give the credits and I ask not to use my personal blog's work without my concern. Thank you!

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Guest
Guest Saturday, 18 November 2017