The number of BurgerFuel restaurants across the country is set to explode as the fast-food chain expands into Abu Dhabi.
The New Zealand-born brand, which claims to be healthier than other burger chains, aims to open nine outlets in the capital by the end of 2015 in partnership with Al Khayyat Investments.
The first BurgerFuel outlet in the UAE opened in Jumeirah Beach Residence in 2010. The chain has since added five more restaurants in Dubai, with a seventh due to open within days at Al Barsha Mall.
"We have another three stores under fit-out, so we will be at 10 stores by the end of this year for sure in Dubai," said Farah George, the general manager of food and beverages at Al Khayyat Investments.
BurgerFuel is due to open its first Abu Dhabi outlet in Dalma Mall next month and it is targeting Sowwah Square, The Galleria, for its second, towards the third quarter. It also plans a third outlet this year in the capital, probably in the Corniche area, said Mr George.
In the long run, BurgerFuel officials believe the Abu Dhabi market holds the potential for triple that number of outlets.
Al Khayyat, which manages three other food and beverage brands in the UAE, including Il Caffè di Roma, is in talks with a number of landlords about locations.
"We are talking seriously to malls like Bawabat Al Sharq Mall. We have proposals from Deerfields, which is on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. We plan one in Marina Mall [and] one in Abu Dhabi Mall."
However, the chain is also interested in opening outside of malls, in areas such as Khalifa City A and even in Abu Dhabi petrol stations.
"We are preparing ourselves to enter into discussions with petrol stations because in Abu Dhabi they have great positioning. We have actually been in contact with a few and we think we can open one as well in 2014 hopefully."
The firm's UAE growth in like-for- like sales annually averages between 35 per cent and 40 per cent, despite increasing competition.
"Two or three years ago the variety of gourmet burger restaurants was very limited in the market. Now most of the big players are here, but we feel we were the first to enter a concept like BurgerFuel with a healthier side," Mr George said.
"It is healthier for many reasons. [The beef] is free range because the cow eats grass. It is lower in fat and lower in calories than [beef from grain-fed cows]. It is high in vitamin E. It has essential B vitamins and omega 3 and zinc. And it is halal-certified of course."
Renowned for its aioli sauce made of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolk, burgers sold at the chain have automotive-inspired names.
For example, the Ford Freakout, which costs Dh33 (US$8.98), is a 1/3-pound burger that has 100 per cent pure New Zealand ground beef, beef bacon, fresh avocado, salad, relish and aioli.