Burgeoning burger business

Living the dream . . . Re:Burger owner Boris Reiber presents one of his creations outside his store in North Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A burger business born to serve scarfies in Dunedin continues to grow.

Re:Burger owner Boris Reiber (41), of Dunedin, said he started his business with another Otago eatery as inspiration.

“I wanted to be the Fergburger of Dunedin . . . if you go to Queenstown, you go to Fergburger. It’s almost part of its tourism trade.”

To realise the dream, he renovated a food truck with an “industrial” aesthetic to park in North Dunedin and serve a menu including seven burgers to students.

In a nod to the “grungy, street food” he was set to sell, he named the burgers after Dunedin streets, such as Famous Castle, Dirty Duke and Regent Red.

Asked if he did due diligence before deciding to target customers renowned for being short on cash, he replied: “I did no market research at all.”

He was inspired by the street food scene in London and had a gut feeling a burger somewhere between fast food and gourmet, with an attractive price point, would sell well in Dunedin.

He quit his job as a chef to operate the truck full-time, mostly on the side of the road near Otago Museum Reserve, and served his first customer in January last year.

He smiles recalling the “skate kid” who stopped to order the first burger.

“It was two minutes after I opened the doors.”

The dream for the business was big but the expectations were realistic.

“I just wanted to cover what I earned being a chef. I didn’t want to be a millionaire, I just wanted an income.”

Every week, the business continues to grow.

“There hasn’t been a week where we’ve gone backwards.”

Soon the food truck was too small to meet demand and the business had to evolve, he said.

The food truck closed and the business opened in premises next to the Captain Cook, in Albany St, in September last year.

The burger bar employs six full-time staff and seven part-time staff . The seven-day operation serves a menu with 13 burgers.

The search was on to find a “good location” in Dunedin to open another shop and to take the business to the next level, beyond serving students.

“We want to be more than that – we want a broader appeal . . . but what are we going to do with it next?

“That is the next big question.”