Hamburger was first introduced to the public in Kuwait when Kuwait Food Company (Americana) launched a branch of the famous American fast food restaurant, Hardee’s, in the country in 1981.
Wendy’s followed after but shut its operation soon after.
13 years later, McDonald’s was launched in Kuwait in 1994 with its first branch on Gulf Road.
The entry of Johnny Rockets in Kuwait in 1995 was the beginning of premium hamburger chains which did not exist in Kuwait before. Johnny Rockets’ first branch in Salmiya was the first to provide customers a different hamburger experience from fast food.
Prior to that consumers in Kuwait mainly associated hamburgers with McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King.
For 15 years, hamburgers were either served in casual dining restaurants or fast food restaurants up until 2010 when Elevation Burger, with its organic food-based concept, set the stepping stone for the fast casual dining experience in Kuwait. It is worth to note that locally developed hamburger concepts launched before 2010.
Burger Boutique launched in 2005 followed by The Burger Hub in 2006 and Slider Station in 2007. These brands succeeded in stimulating the hamburger market in general and plant the seeds for future change.
Despite the fact that these locally developed concepts are mainly in the casual dining category but their fresh take on hamburgers attracted early investors to the hamburger restaurant business such as TABCo and Alshaya.
Their early entry into the industry did not go beyond a short lived hype among youngsters and slowly faded away.
They fell into the same trap that most local businesses fall into which is turning their 100 square meter restaurant concept into a brand that lives with generations.
The clear definition of business concepts powered by strong operational management and social engagement are key to growth in the food service industry.
* This is a special report by Kuwait Times. To read the whole article, click here