Burger chain GBK is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Neil Gerrard talks to managing director David Sykes about the firm's celebrations and plans for the future.
Happy 10th birthday, how did GBK get started? GBK was set up by three Kiwis who just couldn't believe that London with it's sophisticated eating-out market, had nowhere to get a great hamburger at an affordable price.
How are you celebrating your 10th anniversary? Our celebrations are stretching over the whole year. So far we have run a birthday offer for our 300,000 GBK gang (our club) members, completed the refurbishment of three of our restaurants, including Northcote Road where it all began (a further 15 are planned in the next six months), and we've held a micro bloggers "burger and beers" night with Peter Gordon our chef in chief.
What has been the highlight for you in the last decade of running the business? There has genuinely been way too much to condense into a few sentences, but the fact that we're still here and serving over 100,000 customers per week is the ultimate testament to all at GBK - past and present.
Nearly everyone of the original copycat competitors (in a market that we created) has now gone or given up the game.
Having said that, there are now some new kids on the block so that should make things fun in the market again.
How has the casual dining scene changed in that time? It's become more competitive. Today competition isn't just about looking over our shoulder at operators offering a similar type of food to ours, it's everyone. From sandwich shops to restaurants, pubs & bars and even the supermarkets have encroached with their "dine in" deals that include a bottle of wine.
What plans do you have for the future of GBK? Although we've slowed down our openings (next year we'll open five new GBKs), we're investing heavily over the next 18 months in our existing operation in terms of property, food and people. When you've been around for a decade you need to make bloody sure you're ready for the next 10 years and that's what we're doing.