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“The Best Burger in London”: Inside Tommi’s Burger Joint

With the burger boom in the UK at an all-time high, Berkeley Scott are getting in on the action, bringing you lucky lot an all exclusive on what is widely argued as “the best burger in London”, or Europe for that matter – Tommi’s Burger Joint.

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If you haven’t heard of Tommi’s before, then you’re missing out. The burger joint is the brain child of Tommi Thomasson, opening his first site in his home country, Iceland. People went crazy for his premium, tasty burgers at a cheap steal and now after a decade has passed, Tommi’s Burger Joint is dominating the field, boasting multiple sites across Europe including 3 right here in London. Joining their other 2 sites in Marylebone and King’s Road is their latest site in Soho.

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You may be wondering, what makes a perfect burger? Well Chief Executive of the group and son of the founder, Ingvi Thomasson has laid it out for us: The bun has to be soft and you have to be able to hold it in one hand. You have to be able to bite into it, so it can’t be too big and it has to have good condiments. Simple but effective and darn tasty – trust me, we had the pleasure of trying them for ourselves and it was the best burger I’ve ever tasted. Add onto that their generous portions of fries and my belly hadn’t been that satisfied and full in a long time. They use a UK butcher called HG Walter, named number 1 butcher in the UK, for their Scottish grass fed beef, and their bread is sourced from Millers Bespoke Bakery, where they have their own special recipe. All their produce is local, the burgers are all hand pressed with 10% more fat added into it for that unbeaten flavour!

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Berkeley Scott have the pleasure of exclusively recruiting for Tommi’s Burger Joint across Europe and we are extremely excited to bring you a special interview with their Chief Executive, Mr. Ingvi Thomasson.

The Interview

What was your main aim when bringing the burger joint to the UK?
The aim was to deliver a solid high end burger in a casual concept. Tommi has been doing burgers for 36 years and so we wanted to try his burgers outside of Iceland. London was our first choice as it’s a highly competitive and very mature market.

After great success with Tommi’s, you now boast numerous sites across Europe. Which countries did you decide to start off in first and how often do you visit them?
After we developed the concept in Iceland, our first place we went to was London and then after that we went to Copenhagen. It varies between cities, but I’m on the road 180 days of the year. I come to London 2 or 3 times a month and then others vary. At the moment I’m focusing on the UK, Germany, Norway and Italy because we have huge growth potential, so we want to try and build scale on these markets.

How would you describe the atmosphere of your sites? What kind of dining experience do you offer to your customers?
It’s a relaxed place, where you can get away from the world for 20-30 minutes and have a good quality, casual meal. We have a sign up that says ‘be nice or leave’, which means the staff are nice to you and in turn, you are nice to the staff. We want you to feel like you’re almost coming to someone’s backyard BBQ for a meal. We have a wide genre of music playing and a chilled environment, perfect for that break away from the world.

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How does your burger joint differ from big competitors such as Shake Shack, Patty and Bun, Meat Liquor etc.?

I have tremendous respect for all these competitors, it’s very impressive. Danny Meyer (CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group) is like a legend and they’re all worthy competitors here. What I would say that makes us a little bit different is that Tommi has been doing burgers for so long and we provide a very authentic feel. Tommi loves a hamburger and he’s passing on his passion for the hamburger. We’re not expanding the menu like a lot of the other restaurants are doing, we’re focused on producing a great hamburger, a veggie burger and a chicken burger and that’s it. Our menu is very limited and we don’t see ourselves going in that direction whatsoever.

What’s your most popular meal order from your customers?
The ‘Offer of the Century’ which costs £10.90. It’s a cheeseburger with everything on it, fries and a drink. Now, I guess this goes back to why we’re different, we have something called ‘Pimp your Burger’; it’s a station with all kinds of sauces and toppings including jalapenos and dried onion. We’re putting the power in the hands of the customers. Around 80% of our customers go to that station and we love adding new items, such as dried jalapenos from Italy which is doing really well. The ‘Pimp your Burger’ station is constantly evolving with our customers recommendations.

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London has of course experienced a huge burger boom in the recent years. Do you see any signs of it stopping or do you think it will get stronger?
The burger has been around for a long time, and now it’s evolving across all regions, not just London. With the market growing, now customers are used to getting a high end burger and it’s tough to go back to a less quality focused burger. I was brought up on big macs, and you know what you’re going to get with them. But when you’re used to biting into a high quality burger, it would be like not eating a burger, more a sandwich. Ultimately I feel the market will continue to evolve and I don’t see it slowing down. A lot of people say ‘oh it’s a craze, it’s over’ but burgers have been around for a long time and the demand will continue to be there.

Is it true that Tommi’s burgers have the seal of approval from many A-lister celebrities?
Yes but we treat them like any other customer. We don’t exploit the fact that celebrities go to our sites and you will never see any posts of the celebrities on our social media pages. The whole point with Tommi’s is to get away from life and for a celebrity, what better place. Often they just want to feel like a regular person and that’s what Tommi’s gives them.

I’ve heard that Tommi eats a burger every day?
Tommi eats a burger on average every day, sometimes 2 or 3 burgers a day! He does work out as well, he’s 68 years old, loves a burger and is in great shape. If you take apart the burger, it’s a high quality meal. Its good produce, good beef, salad and a bun. The burger that we serve is a high quality meal and not unhealthy in the slightest.

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If after reading this you’re (rightfully) now craving for one of Tommi’s burgers then we have even more good news. Tommi’s will be getting involved in the legendary Meatopia pop-up event at Tobacco Dock (London) in early September. There are also exciting plans for further Tommi’s Burger Joints across London and the UK as well as an iconic burger truck where they can bring their delicious burgers to parties, graduations and many more events. To keep up to date with their latest news, make sure to follow them on social media!

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