Big Smoke Burger
Move over McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Burgers have made a big comeback in the past decade and it seems that almost every restaurant has added them to their menu. And for the first time, these burger giants are facing some serious competition. For decades, the hamburger suffered from a junk food reputation driven predominantly by its association with fast-food chains but the market has changed since the mid-2000s as the burger underwent a makeover to become a gourmet menu item allowing customers to create their perfect burger through countless combinations of toppings and sides.
While it seems that the market is already quite saturated with various burger establishments, it didn’t stop Mustafa Yusuf, CEO from introducing Big Smoke Burger to the industry and customers are hungry for more.
Yusuf was born in Somalia and moved to Toronto with his family at the age of 11. Yusuf started out his venture back in 2007 with a restaurant called “Craft Burger”, a 16-seat capacity venue located on King Street West, in Toronto, ON. Since then, he expanded to four other corporate locations within the Greater Toronto Area and began franchising his business in September, 2012.
“We have franchised locations in Canada, The Middle East and United States with a current total of 16 locations worldwide,” he says.
With so many burger establishments dishing out high-quality products, the bar is set quite high to stand apart from the competition. The gourmet burger has to be sourced quite well and Big Smoke Burger is committed to sourcing the freshest ingredients in order to deliver the best possible product. Their ground chuck is made to their specifications and is always fresh. Their Signature Burgers featuring house-made toppings and sauces that set them apart with exceptional flavor combinations.
Big Smoke’s selection of Signature Burgers include: The Craft Burger, The Big Smoke Burger, Blue Burger, Big Smoke Burger, Crazy Burger and Spicy Burger, which are also their best sellers. Their menu features fresh hand-cut French fries, cooked in trans-fat-free canola oil, homemade milkshakes with three scoops of ice cream as well as items like fresh salad greens and even traditional poutine.
“Our customers really enjoy all of the fresh choices and options,” says Yusuf. “Grilling our fresh meat to order does take about eight to 10 minutes but it’s worth the wait. “ Their classic toppings include ketchup, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, fresh lettuce, tomato, pickle, diced red onions and jalapenos, for no extra charge. Customers can also choose from a traditional fountain soda or Big Smoke’s featured “Boylan’s cane-sugar” sodas and enjoy their meal for dine-in or to-go.
Burgers have become fashionable in the Middle East as well because they span a number of current food trends, including, the desire for affordable treats and the fascination for authentic Western comfort food.
“The Middle Eastern appetite for Western culture and cuisine helps,” says Yusuf. “Ninety-five per cent of the customers dining at our restaurants are Arabs.”
Aside from the menu pricing, the only major difference found in Big Smoke’s Middle East locations is the legal requirement of halal beef. Currently, halal beef is sourced from suppliers in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. “We’re trying to promote Canadian beef and are working with suppliers,” says Yusuf.
“Burgers remain a comfort food and we focus on fresh ingredients and locally sourced food,” he continues. People can feel good about their choice, while still indulging a little. Big Smoke is committed to offering healthier options; like their grilled chicken salad, substituting lettuce wraps or whole wheat bun and cooking on an open-flame grill.
Big Smoke loves to hear from their customers who share their dining experience on their social media channels. They are excited to introduce some new items that they have added to their menu such as the Blazing Pineapple Burger. They have also introduced a Jerk Chicken sandwich with jerk marinated grilled chicken, BBQ sauce, hot peppers, and tomato.
The Big Smoke team is able to work in a friendly, clean and professional environment with a product that they can be proud of. “Each of our team members are able to speak to the freshness of our ingredients, the gourmet toppings, fresh beef, chicken and lamb and the house-made sauces and shakes with fresh hand-cut fries,” says Yusuf. “Our training team is committed to keeping the product and delivery consistent along with our marketing and operations team ensuring that what you see is what you get.”
In the past year, Big Smoke’s locations served 900,000 burgers combined. Within the next two years, Yusuf’s goal is to have a total of 50 locations worldwide.
“We plan on opening 10 more locations, focusing on growth within Ontario and expansion across Canada” he says.
Big Smoke is always looking to develop franchising the business. “Recognizing the evolution of the Big Smoke Burger experience requires like-minded individuals who share our commitment to quality,” says Yusuf.
Big Smoke Burger is currently offering franchise ownership opportunities in select Ontario and national markets.