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Mississauga Blogger profiles South St. Burger Co.

Apr 12, 2010

South St. Burger Co. brought to you by New York Fries
By Mississauga Blogger on April 8, 2010 8:50 AM

Easter Monday the girls and I had lunch at South St. Burger Co on the west side.
Islington Ave. a couple of km’s north of the Queensway in Etobicoke. We had a 2 for 1 coupon my wife had picked up.

The food was great and the kids give a big thumbs up to the milkshakes. The fries are supplied by New York Fries the company behind this new premium burger concept. For a few cents you get a whole lot more than some other purveyors of burgers.

I had a cheese burger with jalapeno cheese, mustard, tomatoes, wasabi mayo, pickles, spicy relish on a fresh whole wheat bun.

I was curious about this latest concept and was surprised they’ve been around since 2005. Alyssa Berenstein of South St. Burger Co. answered my questions below:

Q: After years of success with New York Fries why gamble on South Street Burger Co a new restaurant idea?

A: South St. Burger Co. came about initially as an expansion strategy for the New York Fries brand. We knew that NYF was an impulse purchase and did very well in the mall and movie theatre environments, however it wasn’t a strong enough calling card to serve as a destination. Pairing it with a premium burger offering changes the game – South St. Burger Co. is a destination brand, and serves to expose many men, who do not hang out in mall food courts, to the New York Fries brand. Also, with so many burger concepts focusing on the burgers, and leaving the side orders as a distant afterthought, we knew there was an opportunity to improve the overall gourmet burger experience with the New York Fries quality.

As we began to build the concept for South St. Burger Co. we quickly realized that this was a much bigger opportunity than merely growing our fry units. We felt that the premium burger segment was being poorly serviced in Canada, and to that end, set out to create upscale burger experience that stood apart from traditional fast food burger offerings. Just at NYF was built on the concept of real and fresh ingredients, we wanted that same standard put to the burgers. Once we tasted the difference of a fresh patty, flamed grilled to order, we knew we had found a winning combination of burgers and fries that would be unmatched in the fast food industry.
Q: Better sides, better beef and better toppings signs are in your restaurants what make your food better?

A: We believe that the quality of our ingredients and the way that we cook our food is quite unique in a chain such as ours. Our fries and onion rings are made fresh throughout the day in each store, and cooked in trans fat free sunflower oil , to order. Our burgers are made with 100% pure beef – no preservatives, additives, filler, hormones or antibiotics are given to the cows, and the animals are naturally and conscientiously raised using traditional farming methods.

With regards to our toppings, we offer a vast selection of unique flavours and sauces, including Cajun onions, curry mayo, mango chutney and Dijon horseradish, alongside the usual pickles, onions and ketchup. If you like cheeseburgers, you have your choice of 4 real cheeses (cheddar, swiss, Monterey jack with jalapenos and goat cheese) to add to your burger. Overall, South St. Burger Co. provides many ways to dress up and personalize your meal.

Q: You have a wide variety of toppings and garnishes for your burgers how did you choose the ones offered and how did you know when to stop?

A: We choose our condiments in a variety of ways – some are personal favourites of our executive team (mango chutney and Dijon horseradish), others are sourced after monitoring industry flavor trends (curry mayo, gourmet dill pickle relish).

Still others are inspired by our customer feedback; for example, even though we offered Tabasco as a self serve seasoning at our seasoning table, customers were requesting a hot sauce for their burger.We responded by sourcing a hot pepper relish and a hot sauce and developing our now signature Cajun onions.

When to stop? Hopefully never. We want to continue to switch around our toppings to encourage people to rethink their burger experience.

Q: Is the name South Street have anything to do with the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan?

A: Absolutely! Good catch. South Street Seaport was the home to the original “mom and pop” New York Fries store in New York City. We wanted to pay tribute to our heritage when deciding on our name.

Q: How long has the SSBC been open and where did the idea come from?

A: South St. Burger Co. has been open since September 2005. Our first store was our Dufferin and Steeles location. So far, most of the South St. Burger Co. restaurants have been located in big box centres, but we are starting to expand our sites to include malls, street front locations and smaller plazas. We now have 12 locations, 11 of them are corporately owned in Ontario and we have 1 franchised location in Alberta, with hopes to continue growing in both markets.

Q: Tell me a bit about the design that went into the restaurant.

A: The design of the restaurant, as well as all the logos, packaging, website and even to some extent menu development was created in partnership with JUMP branding and design. The look we were after was a New York style loft environment – open, contemporary, but not too modern that it looked sterile. We toured many restaurants in New York City, LA and Chicago for inspiration in the design, and for the most part, have stayed true to the initial store’s artistic vision.

Q: SSBC beef is fresh, no hormones, no antibiotics and you use green power. Did consumers ask for this type of beef and power or is it corporate driven?

A: All of these initiatives are corporately driven. Our mandate is to “be the right choice” and these initiatives were inspired by that philosophy. Though our customers have not demanded these attributes, they are embracing them.

Q: Any new food ideas cooking at NYF?

A: We are always testing out new products for NYF, though we are limited to fries as a meal area. Our latest test is for a Chili poutine in two Toronto stores. It consists of beef chili, on top of our cheese curd and topped off with fresh green onions, all over a bed of fries. It is delicious, and we hope that it tests well so we can roll it out across the chain!

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