Sascha Brodbeck pulls up to our meeting spot in Canberra’s Fyshwyck in a Holden ute, fully painted fire-engine red. As we step inside Capital Brewing, a similarly coloured converted red caravan takes up a third of the taproom. Painted on the side in large white letters is four simple letters that all Canberrans know, B.R.O.D.
Over the past eleven years, the unmistakeable Brod vans have had a love/hate relationship with their audience in the nation’s capital. First setting up on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the initial reception was not the friendliest.
“There's a history between the government and us,” laughed Brodbeck, “because we were that red caravan at the lake, we were classified as an eyesore.”
Brodbeck characterised the resulting tussle over permissions as simply “shit” and pointing to his current crop of grey hairs as the result, what the controversy did mean was that ever Canberran knew the red of Brodburger and the burgers they were slinging.
Served on soft white buns and with lettuce, tomato and onion as standard across the entire range, Brodburger is not just another imitation American-diner style burger joint. Brodbeck described the burgers as “the traditional Australian burger that you used to get on the corner takeaway but better.”
In this case, better comes from the quality of the ingredients that Brodburger uses. The beef is specially selected to retain its juiciness after being flame grilled, the cheese is premium and melts as you take the first bite and the relishes and sauces that give each mouthful that extra burst of flavor are home-made. Deciding upon the recipie used in each instance was no fait accompli however, and deciding on the beef patty recipe came right down to the eve of opening.
“24 hours before opening, my Dad and I turned on the barbecue, we played around with sauces, and just went from there, creating nice simple flavours that the broad spectrum of people will enjoy.”
Since that first day, Brodbeck and his wife and business partner Joelle Bou-Jaoude have been constantly refining the Brodburger offering across the one permanent location and three vans that serve Brodburgers. Experiments with hot dogs with shaved gruyere cheese had to be aborted early as the numbers weren’t adding up, but this dedication to serving the best to local Canberrans has won any detractors over. On a raining and almost freezing day in late March, Brodburger gave away free burgers to celebrate their 10th birthday and to give back to Canberrans who had supported them over the years. Lines ran around the Canberra Glassworks and the local news showed up to film the love that was being shared between Bordburger and its patrons.
Offers have come in from investors to go national, but Brodbeck is keeping things close to home, for now.
“We've been offered to open up 30 stores in a year by a company handing over a $3 million check and we looked at it and we laughed and go ‘Fuck that.’ A lot of people see those zeroes and jump on it but we could see failure in the future of that, twenty stores is crazy. Maybe across twenty years, slowly, [but] we're not greedy, it's not all about that.”
Keeping the business in the family has meant that Brodbeck and the team have been able to retain control over the product they’ve been serving, particularly as when it comes down to it that is what distinguishes them from the many other burger restaurants around the country.
“We focus first here,” highlights Brodbeck, “get the meat under production, bread, everything, and then after that we can expand everywhere else knowing that the quality will be there.”
To keep an eye out for where Brodburger heads to next, check out their latest here: brodburger.com.au.