Pablo Escobar has joined the line-up in a new cartel in Whanganui.

Business partners Cameron Archibald and Jono Rose have opened Burger Cartel in the Whanganui East shopping centre, featuring burgers with names like Pablo Escobar, Sinaloa and Los Zetas.

Archibald and Rose both grew up in Whanganui and spent years working in Australia.

Faced with an opportunity to move from Perth, where he had been for 12 years, to Brisbane or Whanganui, Archibald chose his home town.

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Rose has been back in Whanganui for about 18 months after eight years in Melbourne.

Archibald has worked in financial services for 14 years while Rose's background is in hospitality.

The pair didn't know each other until they met through mutual friends, started chatting about a business opportunity and decided to set up Burger Cartel, a dine-in and takeaway burger restaurant.

They are aiming for a Melbourne-style eatery, specialising predominantly in gourmet burgers.

"They are a rustic, healthier style and we're using whole meats, not processed meats," Archibald said.

"We didn't want to be a fish 'n' chip type burger place, we wanted to create something special."

After looking at various sites, Archibald said they chose their premises in the Whanganui East shopping centre partly because it had previously been a cafe so did not need a lot of expensive work to set up the kitchen.

"The Castlecliff rejuvenation has been influential in the selection of Whanganui East, somewhere else that we think has so much more potential."

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The cafe is open Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast with coffee and bagels and the burger menu is available in the afternoons and evenings.

They plan to eventually extend their opening hours to Mondays and Tuesdays.

They aim to employ local people wherever possible. Chefs Tamara Watson and Zena Roore are from Whanganui and trained at UCOL. The cafe also employs a kitchenhand and two waitresses.

The long-term goal is to develop Burger Cartel as a chain, setting up in small provincial places like Sanson that have a low population but high traffic flows.

Archibald and Rose were thrilled with the response in their first week of business.

"The support from the community has been amazing," Rose said.