Beach burger business booming

LAURA MACDONALD
Last updated 10:23 07/02/2013
Ekim Burgers
AMY JACKMAN

Beach burgers: Ekim Burgers at Lyall Bay. From left, Carmel Levy, owner Mike Duffy, and Richard Varcoe.

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A burger caravan owner is feeling the heat as Wellington's sunshine brings people swarming to his business.

Mike Duffy said Ekim Burgers, at Lyall Bay's eastern end, had just had its busiest week, owing largely to Wellington's extended heat wave.

"It's gone from being kind of busy and a bit fun to just riding this monster."

The humble orange caravan that Mr Duffy made produced more than 300 burgers and 60 kilograms of chips on Sunday, January 27, its most frenetic day.

"That's handmade, hand-scrubbed [chips]. Sitting in the yard in the morning, scrubbing potatoes and chopping them up," he said.

Word of mouth has sent increasing numbers of punters to the airport end of the beach this summer and locals seem to love the transformation of the area.

"They've seen that a carpark that used to be full of broken bottles is now somewhere they can take their family and friends," said Mr Duffy, who has been a chef for 20 years.

He might be sharing that end of the beach soon, because he said he had heard an empty building opposite him was to become a restaurant or a bar.

"This end of the beach will stop being the airport and start being a bit more of a destination for people," he said.

Mr Duffy said he would still be there then, serving fresh and simple burgers, just hopefully in a slightly larger vehicle than the small van.

"I want to move into larger vehicles that are more able to handle the number of people we are doing."

He said there had been a bit of resurgence towards simple food, so he timed his business right when he started Ekim Burgers a couple of years ago.

"I figure the way to do it is do something cheap and easy.

"I don't claim to be gourmet, I don't claim to be fast food; it's just burgers at the beach and that is refreshing to people."

His five-year plan is to have more caravans at more beaches around the city, but keeping with the same recipe for success that has led to his Lyall Bay setup becoming so popular.

"It's character, it's position, it's all sorts of things," he said.

"The food is good and it's cheap. It's like a barbecue at the beach, rather than going to a cafe."

Ekim Burgers is open Wednesdays to Sundays, 11am till 8.30pm.

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- The Wellingtonian

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