The Big Idea: The Original Burger Co.

Customization is king at Sodexo's new burger concept.

Laura Thompson
Director of Marketing Retail Brand Group,

Sodexo, Allentown, Pa.

The Original Burger Co. was developed to fill a need in the Sodexo portfolio for a quick-service burger concept. It’s all about customization. It’s all about quality in the customization of those ingredients, and that customers can get it fast. Within that customization we have some core toppings for the burgers, but the excitement comes from some of the limited-time offer toppings that we have.

The physical concept is retro in appearance: simple, with clean lines. We want the focus to be on the toppings and the process of ordering. The toppings are in front of the consumer so they can see them as the server is taking his/her order.
Our business is primarily in campus settings. I think it has received the most interest there because of the whole customization piece, with Millennials wanting things their way and wanting more options. We do currently have two locations in healthcare and one in a government setting.

We learned that even though customers want that opportunity for customization, they also like some ideas. Sometimes the breadth of our toppings is a lot, so they’d like some direction. Without being prescriptive with a specific limited-time offer profile, we approached it with what we call the Flavor Experience. It’s a kind of a recipe or suggestion for toppings they can combine to reach a certain flavor profile, such as combining certain toppings to get like a Caesar salad on a burger. We have one that’s called Hot to Trot, which is a series of spicy toppings. Recently we ran a promotion called Rock the Guac, which is picking up on the trend and popularity of avocado. In one of our locations we created a QR code for the Flavor Experience and had a mobile site available so that while customers were waiting on line they could flip through the Flavor Experience suggestions.

We’re famous for our burgers, but our chicken sandwiches are big sellers as well, and the platform is the same. You can make your burger an original and you can also make your chicken sandwich an original. We have both crispy and grilled, and some locations also offer chicken fingers on a sandwich. Recently we ran a Flavor Experience around a turkey burger for a healthy option. We also have a veggie burger as an option.

Price points range from $3.29 for our quarter-pound burger to $4.59 for an Angus burger.