A STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO STARTING OUT AND SCALING UP BY GEORGE BUKHOV, THE FOUNDER OF BURGER & LOBSTER
We asked what George Bukhov thinks is the meaning of work and found out that our ever-so-loved restaurant started out as a joke. A genius joke, if you ask us. Two menu options, simplicity at its best, relatively easy to operate, minimum waste and a concept everyone falls in love with. It can't possibly get better in hospitality, can it? All those with big dreams of opening their own place...we warn you, it's deadly inspirational. Those with exciting business... you'll find yourself taking notes (we did)!
George, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and grew up in Moscow, Russia. It was a very interesting time when the USSR collapsed and the new free Russia appeared. It was a time of amazing freedom in Russia. After school I wanted to study acting and music, but my grandfather insisted that I go to study law, and I did. He was a bit disappointed when after 10 years of being a lawyer I decided to go and open restaurants. I always wanted to have a big dog, I never had one. I think I am going to get one very soon. If I was going to write a book it definitely will be a book about love (it will sell better)!
What was your first job?
I was a part time car tyre sales assistant. Many Russian gangsters came to me because I spoke German and could read the manuals of their German BMW’s and Mercedes cars.
Overall, what do you think is the meaning of work?
I have no idea. I think the most important thing is to find work where you don’t feel that you are at work, you must feel that you are making a difference and people need you.
Can you remember a moment, maybe a conversation with a friend or a book you read, that changed the way you think – maybe even encouraged you to leave a 9 to 5 job and start your own business?
It was my 29th birthday. I had dinner with my close friends and that night I realised I had to change my life before I turn 30.
What can’t you live without?
This one is simple. Freedom.
What’s your secret escape – a place you go to think, come up with ideas and recharge?
Unfortunately I don’t have one. I was going to say the toilet, but my little daughter normally comes and starts knocking on the door. I think it’s the bar.
Were you dreaming about running your own business before you started Burger and Lobster?
Yes I think so. But I had a lot of help from my friends. I wasn’t on my own. We are a unique example where friendship is one of the drivers. We constantly challenge each other as well.
So Burger & Lobster started as a joke… What was the beginning like?
We were sat on the roof top at the flat where I lived in London, drinking wine. We were brainstorming ideas and concepts.
Did you raise investment immediately or had to invest your own savings?
We invested our own money.
Your business model is fascinating: few dishes to choose from, high quality, and relatively easy operation… Was it hard to resist the temptation to keep introducing new menu options and keep it so simple?
We always wanted to have a restaurant with only one dish (we actually have our own monoproduct manifesto). But the Burger & Lobster idea was irresistible. And actually we didn’t have any business model or plan. We just loved the fun of it.
How did you find your first customers? …And then more customers?
We didn’t have any PR we just opened the doors of our Burger & Lobster on Claridges street in Mayfair. People found us.
How do you go about social media and creating content?
We are still learning. It's a real art to tell stories about your brand on social media. The most important thing is to have the stories you want to tell. The rest is simple.
What about marketing? What worked for you?
Simplicity and honesty. Be real, be honest, be kind. Marketing is simple when you do something that people really need.
Can you give us a simple step-by-step guide to opening a restaurant (please discuss the below and feel free to include anything we missed!):
My list would be:
- Have a simple Idea, think about a restaurant as an experience
- Have a real product and test the product, is it really good?
- A team with energy, start working with people you believe in and who believe in you
- Straight forward and clear Brand Communication, don’t overcomplicate and have fun
- Location - a suitable and affordable property, be realistic and don’t pay more rent than you can afford
- Realistic business model, double check all the costs
- Investment, be realistic about the budget and borrow carefully
- And most importantly – always bring good energy.
Images copyrights: Burger & Lobster