Right now there’s just one Burger Project outlet. It’s in Sydney and it’s less than a year old. By the end of 2016, owner/chef Neil Perry (of Rockpool Bar and Grill fame) wants nine stores: three more in Melbourne and an extra five in Sydney.
Our first will land in March next year, at the new St Collins Lane mall between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets in the CBD. Outlets at Chadstone and Crown will follow in September and November. In Sydney, locations are earmarked at the MLC Centre, Circular Quay, Parramatta, Chatswood and Broadway.
But all this is just the beginning. Perry and his team aim to have 50 Australian locations, plus a presence in New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and even the home of the burger, the good ol’ US of A. Perry doesn’t seem worried about tackling competitors with a home-ground advantage. “If you don’t think you’re good enough, there’s no use running and hiding where you think you can survive,” he says.
The initial store was a test of sorts, to see how well the concept would scale in terms of consistency, speed of service and quality. It’s done well, obviously.
The chain-to-be was founded on the back of Rockpool’s popular Wagyu burger, but Burger Project only uses grass-fed, non-Wagyu beef from Cape Grim in Tasmania, both to keep the burgers affordable and to veer away from prevailing trends. Perry reckons the farm is big enough to supply about 100 Burger Project stores.
His patties use a mix of point end, brisket and chuck cuts, which are cut and minced at each location, then hand-formed. “We’ll never have centralised production, because we couldn’t guarantee the quality,” Perry says.
These are sandwiched between Breadtop buns, along with classic fillings such as cheese, pickles and slow-cooked beetroot. Then there are the more inventive ingredients that hint at Perry’s fine-dining background. Try the rose mayonnaise and you’ll understand what we mean. The Burger Project also sells a range of ice cream, shakes, wine and beer.