THE BIRTH OF BURGERMONGER
In 2008, on a beautiful summer day in Pittsburgh, PA, while Hickton and Slane were enjoying a grilled burger in Slane’s backyard, they discussed how to improve upon this American staple. Conversation soon turned to how Hickton’s fine dining restaurant background would be synergistic with Slane’s strategic business management experience.
They decided that had the complementary skills and ability needed to act on their dialog – they would improve upon the classic hamburger.
A seed was planted and BurgerMonger® was born.
“In my experience in the fine dining restaurant business, we referred to the high quality cheese proveyer as the “Cheese Monger” and the best seafood and fish provider as the “Fish Monger.” Bob and I chose the name BurgerMonger® because Mongers are known for their ability to pick the highest quality products,” explained Hickton. “At BurgerMonger®, we selected what we believe are the world’s finest ingredients to produce the best burger on the planet.”
The ultimate goal for its founders was to create a high-end niche in the crowded “better burger” marketplace, and not only to build a better burger, but to produce the best burger at price point a typical family could enjoy. They wanted to create a fine dining experience in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.
The new restaurant would offer a familiar menu with boundless appeal: hamburgers, hot dogs, a black bean veggie burger, chicken, macaroni and cheese, French fries, shakes and malts, beer and wine. The difference would be in the gourmet quality and taste. And toppings.
BurgerMonger® would offer its customers 38 different standard and premium toppings to make their meal completely customized. From pickles, onions, mushrooms, and ketchup to the unique neon relish, glazed balsamic tomatoes, onion slaw and mustard kraut to the premium cherry wood smoked bacon and imported French Brie, the one-of-a-kind offerings would appeal to every palate.
“They can come in daily and never order the same thing twice,” said Hickton.
Hickton did extensive of research and tastings to prepare his menu. To separate BurgerMonger® from its competition, he decided upon HeartBrand 100% Japanese Akaushi Kobe Beef, 2-3 grades higher than USDA Prime, recognized for both its delectable flavor, superior texture, as well its many healthy attributes.
“No other restaurant touting Kobe beef comes close to this 100% pure Japanese beef. This herd was brought to the U.S. in 1994 and launched the HeartBrand Beef line,” explained Hickton. “HeartBrand was so impressed with our concept, they became investors into our company.”
Like HeartBrand for hamburgers and hot dogs, they chose Coleman Natural Chicken because of its highest standard in organic meat production in the United States.
“Coleman uses no antibiotics or growth hormones,” said Hickton. “We only want our guests eating what we would want to eat ourselves.”
Knowing he couldn’t simply marry a gourmet hamburger and hot dog or all-natural chicken to a standard bun, he found a local artisan bakery in South Florida, established in 1907 and run by fifth generation bakers, whose philosophy and business approach complemented BurgerMonger®.
“Cusanos makes our Challah Bun and all of our bakery products, We found that their Challah Buns grilled on with garlic butter were almost as good as dessert, without a doubt, delicious,” said Hickton.
Hickton perfected the menu over several months and created his own Secret Monger Sauce, a flavorful accompaniment to his handcrafted Burger Monger, Double Monger and Monster Monger.
For French fries, he returned to the authentic flavor profile of his youth, golden brown, in a delicious beef tallow- the original way McDonald’s did before switching to oil- and cutting only gigantic premium baking potatoes into fresh cut fries.
The first BurgerMonger® location opened in Carrollwood May 23, 2010 and with its success came a second location in Wesley Chapel in March 19, 2012. In 2012, BurgerMonger® beat out its competition to be recognized by TampaBay Times customers as the “#1 Burger in TampaBay.” In May of 2013, BurgerMonger® opened its first Philadelphia area restaurant in Willow Grove, PA.
In 2013 and going forward, BurgerMonger® continues its expansion goals with franchises planned across the United States.
“We want BurgerMonger® to be synonymous with a passion for extraordinary food, amazing taste, and exemplary customer service and satisfaction,” said Hickton. “Our goal is to earn a customer for life.”