Hawaii’s top burger opens first PH store | Inquirer Business

Hawaii’s top burger opens first PH store

TEDDY’S Bigger Burger, voted as Hawaii’s best, will come to the Philippines soon.

The race is on for Filipino restaurateurs to conquer  the “bigger burger” or “gourmet burger” segment in the local food industry—and the trio of Marvin Agustin, Raymund Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico are seriously gunning for domination by bringing in Hawaii’s best, Teddy’s Bigger Burger, as the first international franchise of their company SumoBurger Global Inc.

The first of Teddy’s projected initial 10 outlets opens on Aug. 22, in Greenbelt 3, Makati City.


More than a decade ago, the gourmet burger trend started sweeping the dining world, and eventually found its way to the Philippines. Filipinos are so besotted by those grandiose beef creations that Manila has become an attractive place for foreign franchises to set up shop.

Teddy’s Bigger Burger co-owners Rich Stula and Ted Tsakiris

But it is the other way for Agustin, Magdaluyo and Laudico, whose diverse restaurant portfolio includes Sumo Sam, Banzai, Akira, John and Yoko, Wolf & Fox, Marciano’s, Balboa, and Dekada. They themselves scoured the dining world for possible gourmet burger brands to bring home to Filipinos, something that already has a winning formula but has a concept that is pretty new and still on a growth path.  They wanted to grow with the concept, both as entrepreneurs and restaurateurs.


Along the way, they discovered what Hawaii has been agog about in the last decade.

“It all happened serendipitously. Raymund, who is a co-owner and is in charge of business development, was biking in Oahu and it started raining hard.  He ended up taking shelter at Teddy’s Kailua branch.  His wife had told him all about this winner of a burger house which they  had to try. From then on, he was hooked,” recounts Ricky Laudico, co-owner and managing director.

Enamored about Teddy’s and everything about it—the taste, the concept, the stores—Magdaluyo then brought Agustin, the company’s president,  and Laudico to  Teddy’s in Tokyo, and then met with founders Ted Tsakiris and Richard Stula in Hawaii to invite the brand over to the Philippines.

Teddy’s Bigger Burger Philippines thus joins Teddy’s growing network, with nine branches in Hawaii, and about 20 more in various stages of development in the US Mainland (California, Washington, Texas, Las Vegas), and in Japan.

This August, Filipino gourmet burger worshippers will have a taste of Teddy’s signature offerings, among others, Teddy’s Original Burger, made of 100-percent US ground chuck patty seasoned with our special burger seasoning; Teri Burger, which is basted with sweet teriyaki sauce; Western Burger, which is the Original Burger with a crispy hash brown, onion rings, cheddar cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce; Bacado Burger, Teddy’s Original burger with cheese, bacon and avocado; and Buffalo Wings.

Built from the burger

In an exclusive interview with SundayBiz, co-founder Ted Tsakiris says they are all geared up for the Philipines.


“We’re going to take the same approach that we have done in the United States and in Hawaii —serving one burger to one customer at a time. That’s how we build our brand. We don’t take too high up in the sky, we just make sure that every customer is taken care of, without changing our formula much. It doesn’t matter what country you’re going,” Tsakiris says.

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers opened in 1998 out of necessity, Tsakiris recounts. He and his wife, Linda, would always drive up to North Shore in Hawaii just so they could get good burgers. The thought of opening their own came up and he invited his friend Richard Stula. Their wives, on the other hand, mixed special seasonings and spices and concocted the sweet and tangy “Super Sauce.”

Today, Tsakiris says it was a success because they deconstructed the fancy burger joints, long before the gourmet burger craze started. “We only know how to do that in the most simple way, because we didn’t want to add soy to our product, we didn’t want to feed our customers anything but the pure product at the lowest price. The last thing we thought about was making millions of dollars. That’s why we’re successful, not because we created a business but because we created a burger joint,” he looks back.

What makes them different, Tsakiris adds, is that they are “built from the burger.”

“Honestly, we just do the burger. At Teddy’s, we’re built from the burger. Our toppings are not very extravagant, we don’t have truffle oil, we don’t have foie gras. Our ground chop is the best tasting patty out there. If you wanna serve a crappy ground patty with soy in there, you know what you need? You need foie gras, you need truffle oil all over it, you need double cooked bacon to mask the terrible beef flavor and you need to stack it so high on there that’s eight-inches almost hitting your chin.  So honestly, I don’t need that much product on our burger because if you put too much stuff on there, you don’t have the beautiful experience we have,” Tsakiris adds.

A self-confessed burger purist, Tsakiris grew up being served burger and French fries at his father’s Greek diner in New Jersey.

“My father would bring the burger in front of me and, for some odd reason, I would watch the news on TV and I would sit there and I would talk to my burger.  And my back straight up, I was very professional, I wanted to be like an adult and I would have conversations with my burger. I think I said something like, if I wanted to fall in love, I would choose you,” Tsakiris says with a laugh.

Naturally, Tsakiris would equate burger with happiness.

SUMOBURGER Global Inc. co owners (from left) Marvin Agustin, Raymund Magdaluyo and Ricky Laudico

“Eating a burger is a religious experience for me. And nine times out of 10 when I’m eating a burger,  I just start shaking my head, my eyes closed, and say “Wow! This is amazing!” And my stomach is right near my heart. Eating is an emotional thing. You know if you’re hungry and if we screw your food up, as a customer you will hate us for life. So that’s why a lot of restaurants fail over time because they don’t understand the primitive nature of the supply and demand of food. I’m feeding you because you are hungry, not because you’re full. When you get hungry there are certain biological things that happen to your body. You get cranky while you’re in anticipation of a great burger.  We figured out, don’t screw up. Give these people the possibility of the best burger you could possibly get in the least amount of time and do it in a great atmosphere,” he exclaims.

Love the burger and everything will follow

TEDDY’S Bigger Burger expansion to the Philippines happened because of the parties’ shared passion for food.

“It’s very, very simple. If you tell me, or e-mail us or call me up and say, ‘You know, Ted, I tried your burger, I loved it. I need to take this global; I need to take this to my market,’ we’re already there, it’s 90 percent. That’s all I need to hear. If you love the product, everything else will work out because I know when the challenge is hit and even if there are bumps on the road, I know you’ll trust the product and you’ll stay in the game just like we all do. But if they don’t believe in it and they just approach me with “Oh I saw your franchise online. How much is it?’ Then I say, “Well have you tried the burger yet?” and then they say “No” and end the discussion right there. I don’t sell Teddy’s. The concept is not for sale. If you want to get involved with Teddy’s you do it through eating the burger and loving the burger. Forget about the business model, love the burger and everything else will follow.”

SumoBurger Global Inc. does not plan to deviate from the mother company’s core values and products.

“Our plan is to build several stores to serve as many customers as possible.  However we want to make sure we put in the same level of passion and dedication as Ted and Rich.   The founders are passionate burger chefs and their vision from day one has been to bring back the glory years of the burger joint. If we are able to just cook the burgers as how it is supposed to be cooked, we’re pretty much set,” Magdaluyo states.

SumoBurger Global Inc. isn’t just looking at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers for its expanding restaurant portfolio. In line with its vision to be a house of good brands and exciting cuisines, the enterprising trio of Agustin, Magdaluyo and Laudico are also planning to bring in a few brands this year, including a Singaporean-Japanese concept and a New York-based steakhouse.

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