New opening sees Milky Lane keep Sydney open

By Nick Hall | 17 Jun 2019 View comments

In the burger world, bigger means better, and with a new outlet just unveiled, Bondi natives Milky Lane are looking to take a bite out of the sector.

Since opening its first location in 2016, Milky Lane has become synonymous with the extravagant edibles that Instagram influencers travel miles to photograph.

With a menu emblazoned with over-the-top desserts, cocktails and burgers, all set to a backdrop of hip-hop, the brand has struck a chord with millennials.

Earlier this month, Milky Lane brought late-night life back to Sydney’s former clubbing district King’s Cross.

“We’re super excited for the Kings Cross ‘Late Night’ concept. We will be bringing Sydney what it seeks most, some exciting and tasteful nightlife, literally,” Pete Haselhurst, Milky Lane managing director said.

Milky Lane Kings Cross

The new King Cross location is one of seven now under the Milky Lane banner, with Haselhurst revealing eight additional sites have been sold, including two already under construction in Newcastle and Brisbane.

New franchisee Rodd Richards said he was drawn to the brand after seeing the consumer response.

“It doesn’t sit within any restaurant style that I have ever worked with and the vibrancy attracted me to this. It’s not just about the burgers but about the whole ethos of the place,” Richards said.

With a background in music and events promotion, Richards believes he has the contacts and local area knowledge to make the late-night concept thrive.

“I have been an event and music promoter in venues across Sydney and Australia for over 20yrs. I wanted to apply my music & event insight into a permanent experience,” he said.

Boutique attraction

It’s been a categoric rise for the late-night burger bar concept, which Haselhurst puts down to the boutique nature of the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market. It isn’t enough just to have a quality product, he said, it has to have celebrity appeal.

Milky Lane’s feeds are created by Gordon Ramsey-trained head chef Scott Findlay, with the shakes and cocktails put together by two-time Australian and New Zealand flaring and mixology champion, Robbie Stowe.

“It’s exciting, people like boutique and it also holds value and quality,” he said.

“We’ve always seen Milky Lane as a boutique franchise model, and we’ve limited the number of stores available to only 40 throughout Australia to maintain Milky Lane as a destination experience.”

That focus on destination dining has paid off so far. Take a look at the brand’s over 100,000 Instagram followers and it’s not hard to see that the message is getting through.

Social media

Social media plays a big part in the Milky Lane model, with Haselhurst revealing there is more method than madness when it comes to posting.

“Social media is everything for Milky Lane, not only do we use it to drive our products, but we also use it for our research and customer feedback,” he said.

“We use our social channels to dictate where we open and our audience tell us what they want Milky Lane. Some may see this as risky, but it’s been working extremely well for us.”

Using social media for more than just marketing is a premise that many franchises are now adopting. However, in the QSR space, the market has been slow with the uptake.

With Milky Lane’s strong connection to the millennial market, however, the brand has been able to leverage a multi-faceted approach to customer retention, including the use of influencers.

“Working with influencers is something we strongly believe in – 2019 is a digital space where if you aren’t leading the race online or being creative, you’re falling behind,” Haselhurst said.

The return on investment has been extraordinary. Working on contra deals, offering food and drinks in return for content has grown the brand’s presence enormously, with little initial spend.

“The product cost to us is generally quite small and we can reach up to 1m people around the world (we aren’t global yet but brand awareness is key in the growth stages also) and have noticed that this converts to sales for us, in store,” Haselhurst said.

“We have guidelines that we send to each person before we work together for the first time and we maintain these relationships throughout the year. It’s a coexistence that works well for us both.”

The future of Milky Lane

While the brand has come a long way in just three short years, Haselhurst believes the best is still yet to come.

“We have a very exciting future ahead of us; our aim is to have opened all 40 Australian locations by 2021,” he said.

Three additional New South Wales stores will open in 2019, with the brand now focusing on Queensland and Victorian expansion, but Haselhurst isn’t ruling out international expansion.

“We have a huge demand for our brand internationally and we look forward to overseas expansion in 2020 into multiple regions and countries.”

Want to get into the burger business yourself? Take a look at these great franchise opportunities.