Phillip Herodotu, who is overseeing the opening of the second Blacks Burgers’ restaurant in Epsom later this month, believes the evolution of the UK burger scene has created a greater awareness of more premium burger offerings like his.
“Thanks to the emergence of so many burger joints, people are beginning to appreciate the difference between a fast-food burger and a more premium offering, so it’s been great for us,” Herodotu told BigHospitality.
“So many variations are springing up in London and I’ve gone to most of them. I think there are still gaps in the market - a lot of these new places are really cool, but the big difference between us and lots of others is that we have a mass appeal - families would be a lot more comfortable in our restaurant than they would in one of the grungier places.”
Blacks Burgers is a family-run business which launched in Purley last year. It offers more than 18 different premium handmade burgers, quickly gaining a flurry of media coverage for offering what it claimed was Britain’s largest burger. ‘The Beast’ weighs in at around 14lbs, including 7lb of Black Angus beef, seven rashes of bacon, half a pound of mature cheese, a whole lettuce and seven whole tomatoes.
It is now doubling up in Greater London with a second, much larger venue opening in Epsom on Tuesday 20 August. Situated on the former site of Mai Ping in Waterloo Road, the 70-cover venue is almost double the size of the original, with Herodotu – son of Blacks Burgers’ owner Vas – overseeing the restaurant.
The Beast won't be available at the Epsom branch, but the rest of the menu will be the same, including the 24-ounce Big Daddy burger, which should satisfy those with larger appetites. "People love doing the challenges," said Herodotu. "Everyone is obsessed with the 'Man Vs Food' TV programme. It’s good fun and it makes us a bit more unique."
Speaking of the potential to expand the Blacks Burgers business further into the capital, Herodotu added: “we can’t look too far into the distance. We’re really excited to get Epsom up and running, hopefully people like it here and we would love to expand further. Ultimately, the dream would be to open as many as we can.”
In the past year, the London burger scene has evolved from simple grab-and-go snacks offered by street food pop-ups into somewhat of an icon among international foodies, with dressed-up variations and toppings galore served up in ‘posh’ bricks and mortar operations across the capital.
The phenomenon took yet another turn earlier this month when two of America’s most popular burger chains - Danny Meyer’s Shake Shackand Barack Obama’s allegedly beloved Five Guys- caused huge queues for their first London openings.
Add to that Patty & Bun,Dirty Burger,Flesh & Bunsand Steers(to name just a few) - all opening stores in the past 12 months - and you have a crowded marketplace. In the following video, BigHospitality took a trip to a beef cattle farm in Scotland to find out how one of the newest burger joints to hit the capital is championing the quality and traceability of its patties to stand out from the ever-growing crowd.
Blacks has taken an assignment of a 25-year lease running from December 2000 from Thai restaurant Mai Ping, which was advised by Restaurant Property on the deal. Blacks Burgers at Epsom will open on 20 August.