“We do good classic burgers in a friendly environment, using the best ingredients. We’re not trying to be everything to everybody.”
The Royal Stacks burger restaurant started in 2016 but founder Dani Zeini’s burger journey began earlier, at Dandenong Pavilion, Grand Trailer Park Taverna, and Truck Stop Deluxe.
He wrote on Instagram after closing the Grand Trailer Park Taverna in lockdown, “At its peak, just before we shut the doors, we were getting almost 2,000 people through the doors a week. When you talk about good burgers in the CBD, I’d say we were right up there, and that was something that meant a lot to me.”
Dani flipped his efforts to enhancing the Royal Stacks flagship and today his goal is simple.
“I want to be the Melbourne number one burger brand,” he says.
He’s ready to bring in other passionate business owners to help. Royal Stacks will open four new locations over summer 2021/22, doubling its restaurants to eight, and has plans to increase its footprint significantly over the next two years.
Dani says gradual and considered growth is important for retaining the distinctive burger culture and character of the brand in a busy marketplace.
“On the surface it seems crowded but we’ve got our own little niche. We try to be quirky, more than just a burger joint. We try to be a restaurant first,” he explains. “ I want people to come to the restaurant to get that experience from the vibe, the music, the decor.”
Neon lights and elements of an American diner give the brand fresh appeal and there are features unique to each venue, such as an in-house podcast studio and a vintage Flavour Shot machine.
When it comes to restaurant design, while the kitchen layout is standard, the front of house can be more collaborative.
“We’re actually hoping franchisees will have personality traits or hobbies that will influence the design, perhaps basketball or music vernacular.,” Dani says.
Traditionally, burger stores sport dark decor and loud music; the design thread that runs through Royal Stacks stores is one of colour and light. That’s one reason Royal Stacks appeals particularly to female customers, Dani believes. Women make up 55 per cent of the main customer demographic – 18- to 34 year-olds.
Another reason is the size of the menu – and the meals. Just nine items are on the menu, which features moderately sized burgers dressed with lighter sauces and mayonnaise.
“They are not overwhelmingly heavy,” Dani says. “We’re always fresh, we’ll never do frozen. Our bread recipe has been developed by us, we use different types of proteins.”
So what’s the story behind the name? Royal Stacks is a juxtaposition of an Aussie colloquialism, ‘stacks’, and ‘royal’, indicating premium; the implication being that you don’t have to be royal to eat like a queen every day.
“Everyone’s working really hard,” Dani says. “This is an opportunity to treat yourself. We are trying to replicate the age-old tradition of making fresh food.”
Expanding through franchising
“The plan is not to be the most franchised, but to service the franchise well. Franchising the restaurant gives others the opportunity to build their own kingdom and we have taken our time to ensure that every piece of the project is world-class.
“This is all about sharing success with people, providing others with an interest in our brand to build something of their own. Royal Stacks is a family at the end of day. I want to make people happy and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Royal Stacks has highlighted 10 suburbs for possible expansion. The measured franchise expansion plan is a deliberate move to develop the business locally, and a recognition of the role franchising can play.
“Our main priority is customer satisfaction and the franchisee can provide that,” Dani says.
This article was originally published in Inside Franchise magazine