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Three Brothers and a Burger

Three brothers started a burger joint that is now slowly changing the way Filipinos look at the all-time American favorite
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The Year was 1999. It was the tail end of the Asian financial crisis; the Philippine economy was on the edge, and as a result, many businesses were in financial distress. However, it was in that uncertain moment that arguably the most popular burger joint in the metro was born.

Finding themselves in their own personal financial crises, brothers DJ and Martin Jose asked their brother Quito, who was a professional chef, what they could do to augment their income. DJ was a stockbroker while Martin was working in real estate. “At that time, there were only typical big burger chains in the market. And if you wanted a better burger you had to go to a specialized restaurant or a hotel,” says Martin.

So they decided to open a burger joint somewhere in the middle. “We decided to do plain grilled burgers and you can create your own burger.” The name for the place was obvious: Brothers Burger. And in June of 1999, the first branch of Brothers Burger opened in Ortigas in Pasig City.

And after celebrating 10 years of operation in 2009, their branches now number at 19. With burger joints located practically everywhere, the challenge to the Jose brothers was to innovate the beef patty. “Everyone can do a burger,” admits Martin. “But the main thing at Brothers Burger is that we try a lot of things.” And with an in-house research and development team constantly working on developing new flavors and unique combinations, “there’s constant innovation day-in and day-out.”

Aside from veering away from the traditional beef patty—going into Angus beef, lamb, and chicken instead—their toppings of blue cheese, cilantro cream, or caramelized onions have become signature condiments.

And while innovation is what keeps customers coming, it’s another thing that makes them stay. “The only thing we bank on is quality: quality of service and quality of products,” says Martin. They did that by immediately opening a commissary during their first year rather than expanding rapidly. That way, “we control the quality of the products that come out. It’s centralized. So what you get in one store you will also get in another.”

After 10 years in the business, most people still think that Brothers Burger is a foreign brand. That image was, perhaps, brought about by their second store in the posh Power Plant Mall in Makati City. “The image of Rockwell and the image of Brothers Burger at that time created the brand.” However, Martin points out that they’re “proud to be a Filipino-owned company, and that we can match any foreign brand.”

Franchise investment: P6.5M
Restaurant space required: 60 sq m
Estimated payback period: 3-4 years

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