FOOD & BEVERAGE | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Singapore

Meet the family who brought a famous New York-style burger to Singapore

A second branch of Burger Joint in Singapore is underway.

Singapore became home to the first Burger Joint in Southeast Asia with the opening of a branch in 115 Amoy Street last May 3. The burger store, which is famous in New York for its mysterious entrance, is brought here in Singapore by couple Nicholas and Benedicte Heaney who have gone the extra mile to replicate the original vibe and true taste of American-style burgers.

The founders moved to Singapore in October 1999 and became permanent residents in the city-state since then. Their first daughter was born in Singapore in the year of the Golden Dragon, so they felt very blessed to have moved to Asia. Their second daughter was born in Tokyo. Both children attend the Singapore American School in Singapore.

Nicholas has a successful career outside the F&B sector, but decided one day to set up Burger Joint Singapore for many reasons. Nicholas’ passion is one thing and his desire for Singapore to experience one of Manhattan’s most famous burger store is another. For his personal advantage, Nicholas will no longer need to travel 30 hours just to enjoy a basic American burger experience.

Having spent much time travelling on business to New York from Asia these past 17 years and having watched the growth of Singapore’s burger market, Nicholas found one thing that is still missing - an authentic American burger. This is despite having many stores serving expensive, trendy gourmet burgers. Many burger restaurants in Singapore, he said, have American burger concepts but are actually selling burgers with Australian beef.

Aside from wanting to deliver an authentic all-American Burger experience at a low cost, Nicholas said that he and his wife want to create a very relaxed place for parents to hang out and enjoy a burger while kids can draw on the walls.

Nicholas, who has a full-time career outside of F&B, could not have done this without the full support of his wife. She has been part of the journey from start to beginning and was responsible for all logistics of negotiating the importation of all produce to overseeing the full build out of Burger Joint.

What to expect at Burger Joint Singapore

Similar to the New York location at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, customers in Singapore have to follow the nameless neon sign to arrive at their destination. Stepping into the Singapore branch will immediately transport customers to New York. Everything, from the burger’s ingredients to ceiling decorations, are replicas of the original Burger Joint New York.

To take away the problem of having to decide from a large menu, the owners kept the menu to just three burgers – the classic American hamburger, cheese burger and bacon burger. Other offerings include fries, milkshakes and sodas.

According to Nicholas, they have made special logistical arrangements to only import the very same beef from the farm in Nebraska, the Colby cheese from Wisconsin, and the same Kosher pickles and mustard that Burger Joint New York uses. The owners even replicated the charbroiler being used in New York. It was custom-made in the US and was flown to Singapore.

Furthermore, Nicholas shared that the ceramic briquettes that sit above the flame and below the grill were personally hand-delivered from New York. As such, Nicholas said that Singapore will, in due time, create the same ‘smokiness’ of the New York location as the grill matures.

Other details similar to the New York location include the office-type ceiling tiles, music playlist on the iPod, the hidden location and red velvet curtain entrance. Even the globe lights are of the same distance from the floor.

“In short, we are the only restaurant in Singapore sourcing cheeses, beef,and pickles from New York. The buns are even custom-made and baked fresh to 100% replicate the buns in New York,” said Nicholas.

The owners claim of going to extreme lengths and costs to deliver a true American burger experience in Singapore at a very low cost of just S$13.80 for a cheeseburger.

Meanwhile, to replicate the fun and slightly annoying experience of trying to find Burger Joint New York for the first time, the owners also took a long time finding the right location and landlord. “The process of finding and coming into Burger Joint in itself is also an experience and some say an adventure,” said Nicholas.

Moving forward, Nicholas shared that they are already in discussions to design the next Burger Joint concept for launch in Q3 2016 in Singapore. They are also considering plans to expand in other countries in Asia like Hong Kong.


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