In 2014, Igor Podstreshny and Denis Sarvin brought a food truck from Germany to cook gyros for Muscovites at food festivals. A year later, with the money earned, friends opened the Burger Heroes burger in the capital, which soon became very popular among lovers of meat buns due to unusual recipes and an affordable price. Life around talked with Igor Podstreshny about a mark-up on popular meat cuts, saving on rent and making the perfect burger.
Chicken out of the car
Igor Podstreshny, co-founder of Burger Heroes: In the 2010s, I worked with Vanya Knyazev in the gallery: he was responsible for the aesthetic part, and I for the organizational part. Marketing so fascinated me that I soon moved from art to catering, - worked as a brand manager at Vokker. To create something of my own is an absolutely natural idea for me. I discovered leadership abilities early in my life: I take off my hat, pull out my sword and say: “To the mountain!” - everyone follows me.
It all started with conversations, but one day, with 400 thousand in my pocket, my friend Denis Sarvin and I went to Germany to get a trailer - that was how one of the five Gyros for Heroes food trucks appeared in Moscow. We decided not to invent something outlandish, but to dwell on a simple and understandable dish for people. What could be easier and tastier than gyros - everyone’s favorite chicken in pita with yogurt sauce and fresh vegetables? The recipe was found on the Internet, and then they invited the chef and technologist from Wokker, who helped make the cooking process quick and technological. Since I already had experience in catering, I knew the suppliers. But honestly, they can be found on the Internet. Our first procurement base is a restaurant of acquaintances, where we came at night every Friday. Soon, the project started working, and we have our own micro-kitchen. Then the journalists drew attention to the phenomenon of gyros, and there was a real boom.
In our gyros, 150 grams of chicken is a lot. At the same time, the price for it has not changed since 2014 - only 250 rubles. In the catering market, the average cost of a product is 20-25% of the final cost. We wanted to earn not on a large margin on a small number of dishes, but vice versa. Therefore, our cost of gyros is 35% of its final cost. Over the past summer, we sold 70 thousand gyros - this is about 10 tons of chicken. I think the numbers speak for themselves: we are making a cool product that has not spoiled anyone's plans for the evening.
Launching the new Burger Heroes project, we wanted to make the product simple and necessary for people. We chose burgers, because this is a familiar and easily customizable food. In addition, the city is full of banal cheeseburgers and hamburgers, but we offer more gastronomic combinations.
Everyone who at least a little bit works with his head or hands should be able to buy a tasty burger. Therefore, our cheeseburger costs 250 rubles. He is no worse than “Nobel” or “Baron Dupont” for 300 rubles, although, of course, he loses to “Black Mamba” for 350 rubles. In our name, the word "heroes" is not accidental. To make burgers, at a price of which 50% is the cost of products, and at the same time actively develop - firstly, an economic miracle, and secondly, heroic work.
Of course, you can buy frozen meatballs and ready-made rolls, add iceberg salad, tomatoes, red onions and ketchup, but you get garbage. Our buns are prepared according to a special recipe: they have a certain degree of sweetness, salinity, softness, viscosity and density. Therefore, they go well with meat and sauces that we cook ourselves. Yes, black buns get wet, but this is because there are no improvers and preservatives in them, but there are cuttlefish ink that makes the dough softer.
Cutlets are prepared from Russian beef premium segment, which is grown for steaks. There are a certain number of parts that are very popular, for example, filet mignon, ribs, parts of the brisket. Naturally, the prices for these parts are off scale: three and more than a thousand rubles per kilogram. But you can take one piece and cut it, like a sausage, into equal slices.
We decided to go the other way in order to lower the price without sacrificing quality, namely, we entered into an exclusive contract with the Primembiff company. Especially for us, they choose certain parts of the carcass, for example, legs, divide into muscles, pack and withstand. Non-standard parts cannot be cut into identical pieces, but this is not necessary, because we make minced meat. It is important to say that we use not trim, but high-quality pieces of carcass. The meat is a little tougher, but for a burger it’s even better. The cutlet is not at all difficult to chew, since everything has already been chopped. There are few vegetables in our burgers, simply because they are not needed there: this is excess water, which increases the price of the product. Each burger comes with a great addition - celery - the king of the seas.
Of course, because of the sanctions, there is a problem with dairy products, but we are trying to find a way out of this situation. 90% of our ingredients are produced in Russia. The plans for the summer - to start growing their own potatoes. I don’t know where, but I know which one. We started by making fresh cut fry - fresh potatoes that are deep-fried at different temperatures. But the problem is that today, suppliers brought one potato, and tomorrow another. Technology is configured for the first. In addition, the taste of the final product largely depends on the starch and the variety of potatoes.
By trial and error, Burger Heroes managed to create a new product in a familiar format at a great price. For 300 rubles you can buy a burger weighing 300 grams, of which 160 grams is a cutlet before frying. We sell 20 thousand burgers a month, and our profitability is about 15%.
In the restaurant business, the following mathematics: 25% of the price of a dish is the cost of the product, 25% - rent, 25% - other expenses and 25% - for yourself. But on the street the difficult economic situation: everything went up, and our guests did not earn more. To sell a quality product at a good price, you have to sacrifice something. We donate rent. After all, in fact, it doesn’t matter to everyone whether you are on the first line of houses or on the second, on the first floor or on the second, whether you have a separate entrance and so on. All our establishments have complex, non-standard commercial models, thanks to which the rent is much lower than it could be. In addition, we do not spend money on repairs: we do something simple and cheap. Because it is important for us that people value us precisely for what lies on the plate.
Having opened the first burger in Bolshaya Ordynka, we encountered all possible difficulties. But for us, the problem is that it cannot be solved with money. Otherwise, it’s just unplanned financial expenses. For example, when we opened on Ordynka, instead of the promised 25 kilowatts, there were only 15. Despite the fact that one grill eats six kilowatts, the second - four, plus three it consumes deep fat. And there is also a boiler, refrigerators, range hood and much more. It took six months and one million rubles to solve this problem. And there were an insane amount of such difficulties.
What is really difficult is finding staff. As a rule, all cool guys are terrible lazy people. But we are trying to find the right people and expand the team: in September we had four people, and now 12. I recently invited Olga Korneeva to the company, who worked in the restaurant business for 18 years. She bought out Denis's stake and became my partner. So our management is organized on a professional level. Plus, all employees undergo training and certification.
To open the first burger, 4.5 million rubles were needed, which we earned at field events. They returned the money six months later and invested in the next project. In March, the third point of Burger Heroes opened - this is a big step for us. Back in April last year, our project consisted of one trailer. Of course, the experience of participating in food festivals really helped us. When we did not have time to open the burger room on the appointed day and people were already breaking in the door, we involuntarily remembered the festivals: you arrive at the site in the morning, you build a restaurant, you bomb all day, and you are no longer at night. Then the whole team worked as it should.
Steaks for the poor
We do not plan to develop as a network: there will be no more than five burgers. Three to five establishments make it possible to have a huge procurement base behind the TTC, which greatly facilitates the work. It seems to me that the disadvantages in networked institutions begin to be felt when their number reaches 10-12. We receive a huge number of applications for a franchise, we refuse, because there is neither the opportunity nor the desire to follow someone else’s work. Burger Heroes is probably one of those happy stories when a person does something for pleasure, and not for enrichment. This is a story about me: I was born and live in a city that I adore. I like to do what I do - it compensates for all my needs and turns every day into Adventure Time.
Now our main task is to launch a series of summer events. We have a Burger Heroes food truck. To be honest, I just love food trucks.
The next project is Steak Heroes. My friends and I never received more than 50-70 thousand rubles a month - this is the average salary for a person who is engaged in intellectual work. She does not allow to go to a steakhouse and leave there 3 thousand rubles for one. We want steaks to cease to be elitist, so in Steak Heroes you can eat a steak with a side dish and drink a glass of beer or wine for only 800 rubles. This is possible because we can choose the right parts of meat and rely not on pathos, but on the essence, that is, a tasty and high-quality product. Under the same roof with steaks there will be a burger - such a big project. We set a deadline for September, but would like to open in July or August.
It seems to me that if our fellow citizens love everything imported so much, then foreigners may well love our product. We plan to open Burger Heroes in Amsterdam, Berlin and London. Most likely, let's start with Amsterdam. Those who open primarily in London are just old farts.
I'm not afraid that the fashion for burgers will end. What we do, we do for ages. We would like to remain a local, but legendary story. In our work, we are based on “Propaganda” and “People as people are simple, but pleasing to the heart places. We want to do the same, but about burgers.
What is a good burger
We have a test question that every employee knows: "If I make such a decision, can I make the best burger in the city?" If in doubt, then definitely no.
It’s very difficult to cook an ideal burger. Like any other product, it is distinguished by taste. It is always felt if the ingredients were spared. But there is a problem with burgers in the absence of a base of criteria for evaluation: people simply have nothing to compare with.
There are professional questions. For example, they say: "We have marbled beef." Remove the noodles from the ears and ask which one. They may call the Aberdeen Angus breed, it is best taken root in Russia. Then you should ask what parts of this Aberdeen Angus are using. Often people at the checkout cannot answer this question, but without an answer to it it is impossible to assess the quality. You can also ask what exposure the meat is wet or dry. For example, we are now working on wet, but we plan to build a dry aging chamber. I am sure that when we begin to combine dry and wet aging, all burgers in Moscow can be closed.