After several years in the planning, BurgerFuel has landed in the United States, opening its first store in Indianapolis today.
The Kiwi gourmet burger chain has had its eye on America, the home of burgers, for at least three years and has chosen to launch its flagship US store on a stand-alone site in the suburb of Broad Ripple, which it said was a bustling area and close to four universities.
BurgerFuel had initially planned to open in partnership with Franchise Brands which owns Subway, but after the death of Subway co-founder Fred de Luca in 2015, BurgerFuel chief executive Josef Roberts said the Kiwi company had decided to go it alone.
Roberts said he was thrilled to be finally opening in the US.
"While it's been an epic challenge to open our first BurgerFuel store in the USA, we've done it," he said.
"Like any store we open, you never know how it's going to go until you swing the doors and start trading but we feel confident in the way that we have birthed the brand in the USA as well as all the resource and support we have provided for this historic opening."
Roberts said the company had decided on Indianapolis after thorough analysis, with the city boasting a catchment of about 65 million people within a three- to four-hour drive.
He said the Midwest was also a good place to expand from.
"There's a lot less gourmet food offerings in that central area and we feel that we could be regarded as being quite innovative, rather than perhaps going straight into Los Angeles or somewhere like that," Roberts said.
"Indianapolis also has a strong car culture which fits the BurgerFuel brand, but the main reason was geographically it was a good place for us to expand out from."
The flagship store will offer the same fresh and free-range products on offer in New Zealand, with 100 per cent US grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and chicken and fresh produce.
Although launching into a highly competitive fast-food market, Roberts said he felt the brand was uniquely placed to carve out a market share in the country.
Getting the first store off the ground had been the hardest part of the US journey, Roberts said, adding that the company was already planning its US roll-out.
"Our product is quite different to anything that exists in the American market," Roberts said. "Firstly, our emphasis on fresh, organic, grass fed, free-range I think is going to be quite unique to the US market."
"But also our New Zealand aspect which we think is pretty attractive to the US," he said.
"There is still a strong perception of us as being a healthy country and we think this is going to help the brand as well."
Roberts said all going well the business would look to expand further across the US, with nearby states expected to get some Kiwi burger love.