Executive Q&A: Tony Crosby, Senior Vice President of Restaurant Operations, Kahala Brands
What makes The Counter Custom Burgers stand out within its segment?
The Counter is set apart from other burger brands by three main principles: our commitment to quality, the creativity our menu inspires and the level of customization we offer our guests.
Our commitment to quality is evident in every corner of the menu. Wherever possible, we use locally sourced, all-natural, hormone-free produce. Every item on the menu has been selected with an eye toward quality, health and environmental responsibility.
Creativity is a key selling point for The Counter because few, if any other restaurant concepts provide so many unique building blocks for their guests to play with. Every part of the burger, from the bun to the protein to the toppings, sauces and sides, can be mixed and matched in so many combinations that each guest can create something unique and exciting.
The creativity we offer customers is an extension of our focus on customization, which we take further than anyone else. If you walk into another burger place, you can ask them to hold the lettuce or add bacon, but at The Counter, you aren’t just adding or losing an ingredient here or there, you are building something designed specifically for you. We truly have something for everyone. Our options for vegans and vegetarians, for example, go beyond just veggie burgers, and we have a wealth of options for every dietary restriction.
Where did the idea for The Counter come from?
Our founder wanted to create a burger spot that was hip and exciting, and where customers would feel comfortable going with their family and friends. To give it an edge, he wanted to focus on creativity and customization.
The name The Counter comes from the first restaurant in Santa Monica, which he built from an existing restaurant that had an enormous counter. The whole restaurant revolved around this counter, where you could order and eat or bring your meal back to your table. He wanted to keep that friendly, casual vibe, so he decided to keep the counter and name the restaurant after it.
The original idea was just to create a great neighborhood spot, but it quickly took off and the founder realized this was something that he could potentially bring to other communities, so he partnered with some investors and turned the concept into a franchise.
What kind of growth plans does The Counter have for the coming years?
We are not interested in growing just for growth’s sake alone, and we don’t start out a year with a certain number of new units we want to establish. Instead, we focus on finding the right franchisees and the right locations. When those two things line up, we’ll open a new restaurant.
A big part of that strategy is working with our existing franchisees. When they are ready to grow, we support their search for the perfect location. Existing franchisees are also the best advertisement for new franchisees. When someone comes to us and says they are interested in opening a The Counter restaurant because they're a customer and they love the food and atmosphere, that’s a much stronger candidate than someone who is interested in opening a restaurant but doesn’t necessarily have that same personal connection to our brand.
What does an ideal The Counter franchisee look like?
Obviously we are looking for people who love burgers, but just as important is that they have a passion for service and quality across the board. Our mission is to be the premier burger concept, with an unwavering dedication to our people, value and principles. So the ideal The Counter franchisee has that same mission.
What makes The Counter a good investment?
Our brand has been around since 2003. We now have 39 restaurants, including eight locations abroad. As we’ve grown, we’ve proven just how popular the concept is among both consumers and franchisees. And because The Counter is part of Kahala Brands, franchisees have access to the tremendous support shared by all of our brands, from marketing to construction to social and digital implementation. Kahala is a true partner to our franchisees. It’s their businesses, but we are here to help them succeed and grow at every step. That kind of partnership is invaluable in this industry.