Milton Opening & “Specials”

It’s funny to me sitting here looking at a blank screen wondering what it is that people want to read. It took me a few minutes but I eventually realised that I don’t need to write about what I think you want to hear, but more of what I want to tell. I think that might be the definition of a blog……

We finally have the Milton store open now and as I write this! It’s just had its first week Anniversary. Burger Institute has an interesting record of opening stores at some pretty interesting times! The Forest Lake store opened up on 13th October (the day after my 40th birthday) and had a good run for a few weeks before the end of term and school holidays. This is a notorious time in the hospitality industry and we hit a few quiet spots. December came and went and we started picking up again, but then January 27th changed the game. We opened the Milton store. We had a soft opening the night before Australia Day and it went great. Friday was a blast. There’s a really cool feeling opening a kitchen, in that everything was new, and then that feeling of the unknown.

The website is finally up, the new menus are printed and pretty soon we’ll get the coffee machine. Milton is looking fabulous.

I want to talk about the specials we do here at Burger Institute. As an adjective, “special” means it’s distinguished or different from what is ordinary, or usual; or, even being particularly valued. My point is; some things just aren’t special. If I was to place a burger on the specials board that had mozzarella sticks and avocado slices with beef and pickles, I wouldn’t call that special. But if I took some beef short ribs and made them tender and placed it on top of a burger patty and topped it with some of my awesome sauerkraut, then I would call that special. Adding bacon as an extra would make it even better. And special has so many various meanings, let me give you a third description for it: Of a distinct or particular kind or character.

This is an easy one, every special that I write and then sell, will be of the highest quality in terms of produce, and as full of flavour as I believe I can get it. Otherwise, it’s just not special. The hard part for me is trying to top the already amazing burgers we already have on the menu. Through some tinkering and research, we took off a chicken burger and replaced it with the last chicken special we made. Our special at the moment is called ‘The Bogan’ and is going gangbusters with sales. I’m going to assume that it gets placed on the menu at a later date or is placed in there as a hidden menu dish. Only those in the know will ever order it……

As a tribute to Australians all over, we put a beetroot relish on, our Signature BBQ sauce and hit it with iceberg and tomato. We have a beef patty smothered in cheese, a fried egg and some of that crispy, Black Forest bacon we’ll be getting famous for soon. We top it off with more BBQ and some caramelized onions and it’s a beast of a meal.
And I was hopelessly wrong with it, and let me tell you why.

When it came down to writing the menu, I went nuts. I wrote just over 40 various dishes and then sat there with my bosses and we came up with pretty much what you see on the current menu. The Bogan was on there, but it had pineapple instead of egg and it also had rocket instead of iceberg. It may have got looked over because of the pineapple, but I was pretty sure it was the rockets fault! In the end, it was decided that some other burger would take its place. I put it on there because it’s what Australians eat when it comes to a burger. It’s usually called a works burger, or ‘the lot’. I personally didn’t mind when it was looked over and a different burger took its place. I didn’t think it was good enough. I knew it was going to be nice, but not as nice as some of the other burgers we have. But now that it is on the specials board and we’re getting interest in it, I feel a little foolish that I originally didn’t think it would work. Sometimes, I don’t mind being proven wrong. I was going to do a vegetarian special but about a hundred reasons popped into my head why I shouldn’t. First of all, I wouldn’t call it special. Secondly, about 1% of our burgers sold are vegetarian. Not to be too callous and with respect, but it’s almost not worth the effort. There were mushrooms, and tallegio cheese and all these other things but ultimately, it’s probably not going to happen. If someone wants a different vegetarian burger, then substitute for the proteins from other burgers on the extensive menu and this effectively gives us about 18 vegetarian offerings!

Going forward, we have no real time limit on what we put up on our boards. We aren’t a controlled franchise being told what to do; we aren’t a company that puts any kind of restraints on what we can create. Really, it’s down to whether the burger is selling or not and we listen to our customers. I’m pretty sure I’ll miss a few times this year with what I deem worthy, and I’m almost certain I will knock a few out of the park. Either way, I find it interesting and I’m learning more and more about what makes a burger worthy of Burger Institute.

And for those few out there that like a pickle on their burger, just ask. We have them, we just don’t force them.