When the owners of Burger 25 sat down to map out their concept for fresh, fast-casual food, they didn’t plan on opening up three locations within one year — but sometimes you can’t control what falls on your plate.
“Sometimes you have to be aggressive,” said Andre Braxton, an owner of Burger 25. He said the company opened its first location in May 2011 on Route 70, in Brick, and the second location opened up on in November 2011, on Route 9, in Bayville.
On June 18, Burger 25 will once again open its doors at its newest location in Toms River.
“We’re on a shoe-string budget, and somehow we’re pulling it off,” Braxton said.
Shortly after opening in Bayville, Braxton said he planned to spend the next year growing the business. But then he received a phone call from the landlord of Island Café on Route 37, in Toms River. The landlord notified Braxton that the café would be going out of business, and wanted to offer him a chance at the prime location. The landlord was a frequent customer of Burger 25 in Brick.
Having only recently opened the franchise’s second location and feeling strapped for cash, Braxton said he originally turned down the offer.
But then the next day he took it.
“We had just opened up in Bayville, and we’re a self-financed business,” Braxton said. “We don’t have a million dollars in the bank — we’re regular individual guys.”
But Braxton said the Toms River location is next to an iconic ice cream spot and Monaghan’s Liquor, and said he thought the foot traffic from those two locations would benefit his restaurant. “Toms River is the mecca of a lot of businesses. We just couldn’t pass up on that location.”
Burger 25 employs six to 10 people at each location, Braxton said, including managers.
Burger restaurants might seem like a dime a dozen, with close by names such as Cheeburger Cheeburger, Five Guy’s, and fast-food chains like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King. But Braxton said the fast-casual concept of Burger 25 is unlike any other burger restaurant out there — “We’re not better, we’re just different.”
Burger 25 offers customers hamburgers that taste like steak on top of fresh baked bread. “The bread is the first thing you bite into,” Braxton said. “You could have the best meat, but if the bread is crap, the meal is crap.”
The burgers are made out of fat, chuck and brisket. There are 25 different types of burgers listed on the menu, and the restaurant also offers chicken, pot roast, pulled pork, cheesesteaks and salads.
“Everything is made from scratch,” Braxton said. “Nothing comes out of a bottle.”Braxton said the Toms River location is indeed part of the brand’s overall expansion process — however the company is taking it on a case-by-case basis. “We’re no better than any other burger place,” Braxton said. “We’re just trying to get people away from the drive-thru.”