Pub burgers and other fast foods

By Sheila McWattie

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Burger Cheese Hamburger Burger shack

Burger: popular pub fare
Burger: popular pub fare
Sheila McWattie looks at ideas for driving sales of burgers, hot dogs and pizzas in pubs.

Sheila McWattie looks at ideas for driving sales of burgers, hot dogs and pizzas.

Going places

Home deliveries can give a pub an edge in a highly competitive city-centre environment such as London's Fleet Street.

Punch Tavern's Sunnil Panjabi says: "There's no better comfort food than a big, meaty, juicy burger, made with quality ingredients — it's our top-seller to eat in or out. Our home-made 8oz cheeseburger with large-cut chips sells for £9.25 and makes 70% GP. When customers can't get away from their desks, it comes to them. It's served in the pub, is available to take away (£6.25) or delivered (£6.50). We even make a mini-version for canapés on our party menu (£10 per buffet per person).

"Every pub needs a burger that is its own — just like a quality pie. Ours is made with fresh herbs, red onion and 90% lean British beef."

Rock with a roll

As an American who grew up with Rhode Island's classic diners, Anmarie Spaziano knows how a perfect burger should taste. Nottingham's Old Angel punk-rock pub, voted one of the UK's top 10 vegetarian pubs by animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), had been her local for years when she opened Annie's Burger Shack there in 2009.

"I was surprised it was so difficult to find a UK pub making really awesome burgers," she says. "So all my food is made from scratch and any of my 45 burgers can be made to suit vegetarians, vegans or meat-eaters."

The Old Angel's deep punk-rock roots attract some famous faces: "Pete Docherty enjoyed our hottest burger, the Sid Vicious, with roasted Scotch bonnet, and Lemmy from Motörhead loved our cheddar cheese & jalapeno burger with our Jack Daniel's mustard sauce — he signed 'yummy!' on our menu!"

Build your own

"If it moos, oinks or clucks then we'll make it into a magnificent burger for you — and if you don't like noise, try a veggie burger," suggests Scream, whose pubs specialise in the "good things in life — beer, burgers and TV sport".

Marketing manager Laura Troth says: "Our burger category contributes significantly to food sales. Our 15 burgers range from the best-selling Scream — 8oz of Irish beef with bacon, cheese, crispy onion rings & barbecue sauce — to spinach & lentil. Those who enjoy something with a kick love our piri-piri fireball, smothered with piri-piri sauce, jalapeno chillies & Tabasco sauce.

"You can build your own burger with hash browns, pepperoni and halloumi cheese toppings. Our popular beer & burger promotion (from £3.95) starts daily at 3pm and selected sites run our mid-week Burgermania, with £1 off selected burgers."

Ultimate treat

Greene King's Exchange Bar & Grill brand offers a distinctively American atmosphere and menu selection, from burgers and cocktails to shakes, in locations from canal paths to retail parks. Its brand promise is "to deliver the same great experience in all Exchanges, the all-American way".

South American and Italian flavours are incorporated, with separate menus for older and younger children. The ravenous will opt for Stack it High (for £2, add a beef-burger or Southern-fried chicken breast to any burger option) or an Exchange Ultimate Burger (double-stacked and topped with crispy bacon, grilled flat mushroom, melting Monterey Jack cheese, onion rings & barbecue sauce for £10.95).

For vegetarians, the red Leicester & spinach burger (£7.95) is also available on its older kids' menu (£5.95): red Leicester cheese, macaroni, spinach & cauliflower, bound with cream cheese and coated in crispy crumb.

Do it yourself

With fresh organic meat from its sister business, Eastbrook Farm, and seasonal produce from its own vegetable patch and local growers, the Royal Oak at Bishopstone, Wiltshire, is ideally placed for alfresco dining.

Licensees Tim Finney and Helen Browning offer do-it-yourself barbecuing, with "all the joy and no preparation or clearing away."

Three brick barbecues in different locations around the perimeter of the garden offer various food options, depending on the customer's budget.

Finney says: "We're not able to get the same price for a raw burger as for a cooked one, decorated and served on a plate, so the trick is to sell the idea as a complete package: service, hot charcoal, salads and fresh meat."

Flying Pig burgers and hog roast have also been spotted at the pub's Pigstock summer festival.

Best bib & burger

Josh Eggleton, head chef at the Pony & Trap, at Chew Magna, near Bristol, takes his burgers seriously — the pub recently won a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

"I buy whole deer from a local marksman with the necessary licences and permits for £50 a carcass, and skin and butcher it myself," says Eggleton. "Nothing is wasted: alongside fine dishes we offer burgers and tagine, and the liver is the best I've ever tasted.

"We source meats from local farms, and by communicating with these farmers on a daily basis our understanding and appreciation of their skills continues to grow.

"Recently we've started making burgers with cold-smoked brisket of beef, which has a nice fat content and has a delicious barbecued taste. We top this with Stilton, our home-pickled cucumbers and sometimes add our tomato & chilli chutney with ginger (£9.50)."

Ready and waiting

Kepak foodservice business development director Aoife Kenny suggests selling Big Al's frozen burgers during your pub-quiz break or at half-time during a big match, offering them in foil bags to save on washing up.

"The burgers will satisfy the winning team or fans' hunger and hopefully encourage the losing side to keep the faith," says Kenny. "For a Sunday league refuel, take pre-orders for your local football team coming in after their Sunday morning match. The team will appreciate the stop-gap before leaving for Sunday lunch. For a Saturday night barbecue, advertise your event weeks in advance without having to worry about the weather. Big Al's burgers are ideal for re-heating on an outdoor barbecue — but if the British weather lets you down, just prepare them in your kitchen and your customers will happily make the most of an indoor barbecue instead."

Quality control

Co-licensee of Noah's Ark Inn, in Lurgashall, West Sussex, Amy Whitmore says: "Uproar would erupt if we dared to take our best-selling home-made burgers off the menu. We sell 50 on average weekly, and our local butcher delivers minced steak daily.

"There are no shortcuts to an excellent burger. At the Noah's Ark Inn we take burger quality-control seriously, never using breadcrumbs to bulk them out and always weigh them individually. We add freshly-grated horseradish, secret ingredients and a ciabatta bun to make each one special.

"The burger is chargrilled, topped with a field mushroom, crispy bacon & melted cheddar and served with chips & salad — at less than £10, it's a great, nourishing meal and very hard to beat. There is also huge demand for our burgers to be served in miniature form at drinks parties."

Giant success

The Gigantor is the latest addition to Grand Union's 25-strong burger menu. Operations director Adam Saword says: "Our selection suits pretty much any taste, from our classic and vegetarian burgers to breadless burgers and those inspired by tastes from around the world. With a double beef patty, double cheese and double bacon, the Gigantor is a bit of a beast and already a firm favourite.

"Mini-burgers are part of our sharing platter, so we've really got the burger market covered. The variety, quality and freshness of meat and other produce prepared on-site, and our chefs' ability to cook it to perfection give our burger menu the edge."

A £5 medium burger & fries is sold in many Grand Union sites from noon to 3pm, driving office trade and offering an alternative for customers looking for a lighter meal.

Prime time

"The burger is one of the easiest dishes to do wrong, but also one of the m

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