BurgerFi today launches a new burger—the CEO—and upgrades the casual-dining chain’s entire burger line with an approximately 12% increase in patty size that addresses a complaint that the chain has heard steadily over its five-year span.
“We track social media: We have software that picks up any reference, positive or negative, about BurgerFi and a team that analyzes it. It’s been a consistent problem for us that the burger size just wasn’t big enough,” Paul Griffin, Director of Culinary & Training for the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based chain.
To remedy that, BurgerFi’s grass-fed Angus beef patties for its BurgerFi Burger, Cheeseburger and Breakfast All Day Burger now are 3.7 oz. in weight rather than 3.3 oz. “You’d be surprised,” said Griffin. “That may not sound big but it definitely makes a difference.”
Griffin said his goal was that customers “would notice nothing other than the burger being slightly bigger.” The beef is the same as before, just bigger, the potato bun is new. With the beef change, “we looked at all levels of things we do. We loved the bun but it wasn’t very appealing. We loved the taste but it had a lot of wrinkles. We’ve worked with a baker over the past year to mimic the flavor and texture of the bun but extend it to a good four inches.”
BurgerFi prides itself on serving beef that is free from antibiotics, hormones and additives. Griffin said he was shocked when he first started looking at burger buns how many chemicals they can contain. “I don’t like to use the term ‘all-natural’ because it has become so blurred, but we removed all the man-made chemicals and what we have is a much cleaner bun.”
The chain has invested in proprietary cooking technology that allows it to smash, sear and cook patties in just 57 seconds. Carefully balanced with weights, springs and pulleys, the cooktops underwent testing by both the manufacturer and the chain to ensure the bigger patty wouldn’t cause problems and “that when we smash it, it still fits the bun right. Nothing’s worse than a burger where the ratio’s off.”
Griffin said consumers don’t understand how one small change in a restaurant operation can have a wide impact. “Once you change anything there’s a massive ripple effect that explodes everything you’ve done, because everything changes: every part of the grill-training manual and the burger-assembly packet and order guides and so on,” he said. “It takes a huge team to make it happen. If you don’t watch those ripples you make a mess and things fall apart.”
The impact on prices varies by franchisee and region, Griffin said. Some markets are increasing burger prices by 10¢, 15¢ or 20¢. Other markets are taking no increase he said.
The star of the revamped burger line is the new CEO Burger (above), with two Wagyu/brisket-blend beef patties topped with savory aged Swiss cheese, house-made candied bacon-tomato jam and garlic-truffle aïoli on the new potato bun.
Griffin already is looking ahead on the menu. “What’s great is the new bread company is able to manufacture anything I want. If I want a rye bun for a patty melt or a mini hot dog bun, they can work with any LTO product we want. That definitely opens possibilities.”
Chicken tenders are back at McDonald’s, if only regionally for now. Some Southeast markets have begun selling Southern Style Chicken Strips, chicken tenders with the breading used for the Southern Style Chicken Biscuit that is also is in some Southern markets. Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Biscuits are in some markets as well.
They all are parts of the wonder that is McDonald’s new commitment to local menu autonomy.
The new Southern Style Chicken Strips are available in 3-piece ($3.49) and 5-piece ($5.29) servings.
McDonald’s sold Chicken Selects tenders nationally for 10 years until the menu reduction purge of 2013. They made a brief LTO return in early 2015.
The Lone Star Stack is the winner of McDonald’s Burger Showdown competition begun in March. Consumers were invited to submit ideas for “the first official burger for the great state of Texas” using up to 10 McDonald’s-pantry ingredients. The promotion received 205,000 submissions and 206,000 votes among the five finalists.
The Lone Star Stack (priced in some markets at $4.49 or $5.49 for a double patty) has one or two Quarter Pounder patties, crinkle-cut pickles, white Cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, American cheese, caramelized onion and Sweet Onion BBQ Sauce, piled on thick Texas toast. It goes on Texas McDonald’s menu today, although some markets already have added it.