With locations already in Collingwood and the CBD, feverishly-popular burger joint Huxtaburger is on the verge of making a foray south of the river, having already taken out the lease on a shop on High Street, Prahran. Before the gentlemen cross the border, Broadsheet sat down with the three founders, Dante Ruaine, Jeff Wong and Daniel Wilson, to break down the burger.
Huxtaburger is already opening its third store. Your independence is a point of difference from the big burger chains, but now you’ve got a number of restaurants – what makes you guys different?
Dante Ruaine: I think one of the things that makes us different is one of the things that makes it difficult. There’s a lot of cooking time and process. There’s a lot of machinery out there that can fast track a frozen pattie to be cooked in 20 seconds. But because of the way we do it, it’s open – you can see it takes us this long to cook a beef pattie, from fresh. There are no real shortcuts that we use.
Jeff Wong: Chips are probably the only thing that’s frozen, and we don’t hide the fact we use frozen chips.
They taste better that way, don’t they?
Daniel Wilson: That’s what I think…they’re more consistent.
Why did you guys think there was a need for this kind of burger joint?
Wong: There were five kebab shops on Smith Street, now a couple have dropped off, but they were all doing a decent trade. There was no burger option. We thought that if we could take even a little bit of that, we’ve got a business.
Ruaine: Initially, we thought we could get some of that late-night boozy dollar, but as it turns out, we don’t even tap into that. The lunch and dinner trade looks after it – we haven’t had to open late. We stop at 10pm or 11pm, so the venue doesn’t really get mistreated or abused and the staff get home at a reasonable hour.
Wong: You might make an extra hundred bucks, but it takes you $200 to maintain the place, have a security guard and clean up the spew.
Does the idea of a chain restaurant sound okay to you? If you could be Hungry Jack’s, would you?
Wong: Once you go past five stores, you lose your edge. To take it that far, you stop being in hospitality and just become a corporate person. I’m pretty much that already. I’m stuck in the office all day, but when I do get a shift, I really enjoy it.
What makes a Huxtaburger?
Wilson: The buns. We buy them from an Asian bakery. They’re slightly sweet, soft, sesame seeds on top…they’re not brioche as many people think. One hundred per cent Wagyu beef from Moondara in East Gippsland. They’re delivered fresh every day. We add salt and pepper to it, that’s it. We make our own mayonnaise from Yarra Valley eggs every second day. The bacon’s from Istra. We use fresh pineapple. The American ketchup and mustard is bought.
Wong: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when the wheel’s already pretty good… We’ve been accused of using tinned pineapple and tinned beetroot, but it’s all fresh. We cook our beetroot.
Wilson: And it’s not fun, either, coring pineapple…
Huxtaburger’s menu is pretty limited. There’s something appealing about that, isn’t there?
Wong: The simplicity is really appealing. That to me is successful.
And are you guys looking into any other sites?
Ruaine: Yeah, we’re looking, but we just need heaps of money.
Sell some more burgers.
Ruaine: We’re trying.
Wong: We’re interested in Carlton.
Ruaine: We’d hate to miss out on seeing just how far this thing will go. We are pretty motivated.
Huxtaburger Prahran will be opening at 201-209 High Street, Prahran in late September/early October.
106 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9417 6328
Tues to Sat 11.30am–11pm
Fulham Place, Shop 11, 357 Collins Street (or enter via Flinders Lane, between Elizabeth and Queen streets)
(03) 9417 6328
Mon to Sat 10am–10pm