MANILA, JUNE 26, 2007
(STAR) By Ching M. Alano - It’s as American as apple pie and, yes, burgers. Once you’ve tasted the fresh-off-the-grill beefy goodness of its burgers, you’re a Burger King lover forever. Surely, in the very meaty burger competition, Burger King reigns supreme!

Here’s the beef. There’s this group of friends who share a burning passion for burgers and baskeball. Getting together after watching a basketball game one fine day in October last year, they decided to buy the franchise of Burger King from Ayala Corporation — all 22 Burger King outlets, six of them stand-alone restaurants with drive-through counters that are open 24/7. The friends who call themselves BK Titans — all top honchos and all hungry to test their business acumen in the challenging business of fast food — are Manny Pangilinan, PLDT and Smart Communications CEO/chairman; Wilson Young, Tanduay Distillers Inc. president and chief operating officer; Ricky Vargas, Philippine Basketball Association chairman; Bert Lina, Philippine franchisee of FedEx; and Lito Alvarez, president of Air 21.

“Burger King (BK) is a global brand; it’s a different venture for us,” says Wilson Young as he unwraps his favorite burger over lunch at Burger King in Glorietta 4, Makati — and some very delicious and beefy news that BK lovers would love to hear.

For starters, there are the new interiors — brighter, very contemporary, truly a visual treat. “We try to make every BK restaurant different,” says Butch Nazareno, Burger King president and chief operating officer. “For instance, in Alabang, the walls have painted art by UP students.”

“You should see the hotel-type comfort rooms in the BK resto on E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City — the very modern black granite tops, white water sinks and closets, the nicely painted walls,” Wilson describes. “It’s like a spa. As they say, you will know a person if you see his toilet.”

At Burger King, not only can you smell the coffee, you can enjoy it, too, sip after unhurried sip. “When you have a big restaurant like this that’s not so cramped, people are not pressured or harried,” says Butch. “Your food is served quickly — at Burger King, it’s three minutes or less from the time you order, and nothing is served more than 10 minutes after it’s prepared; otherwise, it’s thrown away — but you can enjoy it at your own pace. You can listen to the music. We even have WiFi in some BK outlets like Ermita, Timog, and Marcos Highway.”

There’s something bigger, better, and beefier about your favorite Burger King. And if we may add, something sweeter, too! Just a month ago, Burger King introduced its Hershey sundae pie made of moist chocolatey crust, chocolate mousse and special icing, drizzled over with chocolate fudge sauce. Doubly yummy! Give me my pie!

That was the clamor of students from Holy Trinity College who trooped to Burger King on E. Rodriguez Ave. on the first day of school. “We were very wrong in our estimate,” admits a pleasantly surprised Wilson Young. “We thought that P75 for a pie would be prohibitive. But we ran out of pies on the first day they came out.”

“Your Hershey pie goes well with your BK Joe,” Butch Nazareno tells the BK coffee hounds.

Introduced early last year in the US, BK Joe is 100-percent arabica coffee that sells for P50 per cup, a lot cheaper than its closest competitor.

“When BK Joe was launched in the US, they had a taste test in Central Park,” relates Butch. “The BK people were so confident that they tested BK Joe against two other popular brands: McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.”

It was sweet victory for BK Joe! An awardwinning coffee plus a heartwarming dessert — who can beat that?

But here’s more. “We’ll also have Dutch apple pies with real apples,” Butch shares more sweet news. “By next week, we’ll have the dulce de leche pie. These pie wedges are going to be regular BK offerings.”

And to get to the meat of our story, BK will soon introduce its Angus burger. Real tender and premium-grade Angus beef served real fast and succulent fresh. Beef lovers, take note!

Surely, the idea of flame-grilled burgers from the finest beef was too much for Miami entrepreneurs James McLamore and David Edgerton, both alumni of Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, to resist. In 1954, the duo founded the Burger King Corporation.

“BK was born at about the same time that McDonald’s began,” recounts Butch. “But McLamore and Edgerton took a different route from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald.”

In 1957, Burger King came up with its Whopper — a whopping burger with sauce, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes — designed for big appetites. Yes, your favorite whopper still packs a wallop at 50!

Back then, a hamburger cost 18 cents while a Whopper was 37 cents.

Now, around the world, you can enjoy your BK Whopper in many ways: Japan’s got its teriyaki Whopper; there’s the Korean bulgogi Whopper and then there’s the Mexican Whopper.

Coming soon, a Pinoy Whopper? “Why not, we can have adobo or bulalo with it,” Butch is delighted to suggest.

In 1987, BK completely computerized its cooking and cash register operations. There’s a computer in the kitchen that shows the orders so no need for the counter attendant to shout them out to the kitchen staff. Except, of course, for special orders (but more on that later).

Since then, things have only gotten bigger and better at Burger King. Today, Burger King sells 2.4 billion hamburgers every year around the world. Now, that’s a lot of beef!

BK is mighty proud of its beef — only the best from Australia, New Zealand, and the US. “BK sandwiches are significantly bigger than competition,” asserts Butch. “Like our Whopper is 27 percent bigger than its counterparts elsewhere; the classic burger is 37 percent bigger. BK burgers are really meant for a mature market, aged 15 to 29 years old, with a mature appetite. BK drinks are 16 oz. bigger than the competitors. It’s a bigger product that offers value for money. On a cost per pound basis, BK prices are actually lower.”

Indeed, Burger King likes to do things in a king-sized way. Take its seven-inch-long chicken sandwiches, all in sesame-seeded buns: chicken club sandwich filled with chicken patty, creamy mayonnaise, crisp lettuce, tomato, and bacon strips; French chicken sandwich loaded with chicken patty, creamy mayo, Swiss cheese, and ham; American chicken sandwich that’s chockful of chicken patty, creamy mayo, cheddar, lettuce, and tomato.

Of course, for non-meat eaters, there’s the BK fish — pollock fish from Alaska. Enjoy your fish with fries using only potatoes from New Zealand or the US.

“With the beef, vegetables, and potato or bread providing your carbohydrate requirement, it’s actually a complete meal,” says Butch.

More, at Burger King, you can have it your way. “The thrust now is towards choice, giving consumers the choice,” Butch notes.

Fact is, if you want a low-carb South Beach diet, Burger King can give that to you, too. Burger King recently came up with its bunless burgers — more beef but none of the dreaded carbs.

“At Burger King, it’s all about choice,” Butch stresses. “Others make their burgers only one way. Here, you can have it your way — with more lettuce, more pickles, with cheese, with black pepper, with barbecue sauce, with bacon and cheese, with mushroom; you can have it big, small, one patty, two or more patties. Even our chicken burgers come in two variants.”

While there may be a dime-a-dozen choices, Burger King sticks to only one overriding standard when it comes to quality and hygiene. A lot of things go into your favorite burger.

“We observe 12 critical food safety rules,” says Michelle Jacinto-San Jose, BK restaurant general manager. “Nothing is handled with the hands. The staff must have a good knowledge of cross- contamination. There must be no pest activity (only guest activity). We use only the approved products. We submit to an audit by the BK corporation abroad at least two times a year.”

“If there’s a serious issue, you’ll get a call from Miami asking what’s wrong,” says Butch.

“It looks complicated, but everything is made so easy: A red bucket can only be used for the kitchen, a blue one for the dining room, etc. Even the rugs are color-coded,” says Anton Co, Burger King area manager.

Now you know where the real beefy deal is. Yes, Burger King is the king of our burger-loving hearts.

* * *

Here’s where the beef is: Burger King restaurants are found at Alabang Town Center; Araneta Gateway; Ayala Center Glorietta 4, 2nd level and cinema level; Robinsons Ermita; Robinsons Galleria; Robinsons Imus; SM Bacoor; SM Batangas; SM Dasmariñas; SM Fairview; SM Manila; SM Marilao; SM North Edsa; SM Pampanga; SM San Lazaro; E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue; Mabuhay Rotonda/Quezon Avenue; Marcos Highway, Marikina; National Hiway, Calamba; Shell North Luzon Tollway; Timog Avenue, Quezon City.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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