It’s not an understatement to say that Singapore is a nation of foodies. We love our fast food and many might not know this, but Ordinary Burgers is a homegrown burger joint that aims to serve “premium gourmet burgers at an honest price.”
Co-creators of the brand — How Wei Shen, 29, and Adrian Ang, 38 — previously felt that gourmet burgers weren’t readily available in the suburban areas.
“We felt that there wasn’t a clear category leader in the premium burger segment within the suburban areas and hence, we saw the opportunity to enter this segment,” said Wei Shen.
They worked on the research and development (R&D) for a year before they felt confident enough to launch the brand in 2018.
Unlike many other F&B entrepreneurs, Wei Shen did not have any prior industry experience. After his national service, the IT graduate worked in various roles within the tech sector, which was how he got acquainted with Adrian.
“As someone who’s always hands-on and seeking new challenges, I had wanted to work on something different and that was where I found my passion in food and started the Ordinary Burgers project.”
Not just an ordinary burger
“With the launch of Ordinary Burgers, the intent was to redefine the meaning of an ordinary burger,” explained Wei Shen.
Their burgers are handmade from scratch using quality ingredients and are halal-certified to cater to a larger customer base.
The fast-casual burger concept operates in a kiosk setting with limited or no seating area so it can pass on the operational cost savings to the consumers.
With a focus on offering a value-for-money product, Ordinary Burgers has carved out a segment that competes effectively with the major quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and restaurant brands.
The price range of its ala carte burgers range between S$5.30 and S$10.20, with Signature Classic Beef being their best seller.
Wei Shen said that from day one, their biggest challenge is to change people’s perception that Ordinary Burgers is a fast food brand that sells expensive burgers.
When we first launched the brand, people were curious about the product. The toughest challenge was to educate our customers that our products were freshly made-to-order and hence, the waiting time would be slightly longer compared to the major QSR chains.
As a brand within a kiosk setting, people generally perceived that the entire purchase journey would be quick so there were some initial disgruntlements. However, as we have an open kitchen format, customers soon saw and realised that the efforts required to build a burger from scratch and thus became more understanding.– How Wei Shen, co-creator of Ordinary Burgers
Moreover, once customers realise the difference in product quality as compared to QSR brands, that’s when the mindset shifts — to one that sells gourmet burgers at value-for-money prices.
If you don’t already know, Ordinary Burgers is the sister brand of Mexican-Turkish F&B brand Stuff’d and smoothie joint Common Heroes. Although Ordinary Burgers shares some shared corporate resources with Common Heroes, Wei Shen stressed that it operates primarily as an independent incubator project.
It does not engage in promotions or any marketing initiatives, and mainly market through word-of-mouth.
“We strongly believe that a good product will sell itself and hence our focus has always been on ensuring the quality and consistency, and sourcing for the best possible ingredients at the most reasonable prices,” said Wei Shen.
Surviving the competitive F&B industry amid Covid-19
Today, Ordinary Burgers has two outlets in Singapore — in City Square Mall and Ang Mo Kio Hub.
Despite its growth over the years, Wei Shen said that it has not been an easy journey. Like many other F&B businesses, it has been facing manpower shortage, especially with the current border closures.
“It’s a bullet that we need to bite so our staff work longer shifts to cover some of the gaps in labour,” he lamented.
Like most F&B businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year has impacted our sales. When the lockdown was announced last year, we had to pivot quite quickly to include delivery options. We’ve learnt from that experience and are now in a better position to operate efficiently in this uncertain environment.
We’ve also taken the Covid-19 downtime to further improve our systems and products and are currently looking at further expansion opportunities to bring our products to more people.– How Wei Shen, co-creator of Ordinary Burgers
When asked how they plan on surviving in the cutthroat F&B industry, Wei Shen said simply that they have to continue to uphold the product quality and provide good service in order to stay true to the brand’s value proposition.
“Furthermore, as an open kitchen concept, there’s full transparency in the entire preparation process which, in turn, instils greater consumer confidence on food safety and handling, which are key factors in the post-pandemic world.”
Featured Image Credit: Ordinary Burgers