Started in 2011 in London by a group of four friends, Burger & Lobster landed in New York in 2015 at a location in Flatiron. The concept? Naturally, a menu featuring only two main ingredients: burgers and lobsters.
Now, only just two years after the grand opening of Burger & Lobster in NYC, co-owner Vladimir Borodin is set to launch the second branch of the popular eatery in Bryant Park.
“I spent 15 years as a Journalist, Reporter and Editor in Russia,” said Borodin. “At the age of 26 I was appointed Editor in Chief at IZVESTIA, [which was like] the New York Times of the Soviet Union. It was an early career and it was great, but when I became 30, I decided I needed a change.”
Two of Borodin’s childhood friends were involved in the restaurant industry and asked him for help in setting up his business. “It was all in Moscow at first but five years ago, we opened the first Burger & Lobster in London and quickly understood it was a sellable concept.” By 2013, Borodin and team were ready to expand, and Borodin took off for New York.
In his search for New York’s first Burger & Lobster location, Borodin had a single thing in mind: “I wanted a place where the locals would come.” He finally found the perfect spot in Flatiron and by the end of 2014, Burger & Lobster was celebrating their grand New York opening.
“We wanted things to be perfect and trained every team member to help us make it that way.” While thriving to offer the very best experience possible, Borodin nonetheless revealed himself to be very price savvy. “We wanted to get the pricing right. When I see the way it goes in expensive restaurants, I think it’s just not fair.”
When asked the key to providing great value food without discounting on quality, Borodin simply answered: “We buy a lot. Last year, we bought over 2 million lobsters in our group. We have direct relationship with traders in Nova Scotia and no middlemen. You just need to do the math and figure out what’s the best value for the best quality. It’s that simple.”
Despite Burger & Lobster’s obvious success in the NYC Area, the journey was challenging. “When I came to the States I knew literally nothing,” Borodin said. “New York is not the easiest market but at the time, I was crazy and I was brave enough to do it.”
Borodin’s courage and determination did indeed pay off and despite any doubt some may have had about the success of the venture, it was quickly discovered that “New Yorkers love the concept; on average we serve more than 1000 people per day and sometimes, even up to 1,800 customers. It’s a big number and it shows that we know how to offer New Yorkers the good service and quality food they love.”
Burger & Lobster’s varied clientele gave Borodin the “confidence to open new ventures in very different neighborhoods.” As a “true New York location” and one of Borodin’s favorite, Bryant Park was an easy choice for the city’s second Burger & Lobster.
In the three years that have passed since the grand opening of the Flatiron restaurant, Borodin feels he has learned a lot about the local market and industry. “It all comes down to paying attention to every single detail and every single customer and it’s about building long-term relationships with partners, guests and customers. It’s not just about collecting the checks.”
Despite an age of which it is said relationships are becoming increasingly virtual and superficial, Borodin is keen to highlight Bryant Park’s thriving community spirit: “We know everyone on the street, every business and they’ve all been great with us.” The restaurateur’s vision for the future of the industry is indeed quite optimistic: “I don’t buy it, when people say that everyone stays in while watching Game of Thrones with takeaway. People still want to go out. If I were a supermarket, I’d be far more concerned.”
So with a second NYC restaurant set to open, 10 restaurants in London and franchises in Dubai, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Stockholm and Thailand, where will Burger & Lobsters next relocate? “I’ve been receiving some offers from all over the country in places like Miami, D.C., Chicago, Vegas and Dallas, but to move out of New York would be like taking Burger & Lobster to a whole new country. The markets are so different,” says Borodin before concluding: “We don’t want to compromise quality for quantity. We want to make sure everything is perfect.”
To learn more about the Bryant Park location of Burger & Lobster, visit their website.