Entrepreneur

Zark Varona

Zark's Burgers

Filipinos love to eat out, keeping the $11.2B Filipino foodservice industry healthy at a 6% YoY growth rate as families dig into their adobo. But even with a whopping 86K foodservice outlets (Euromonitor), one meal has barely touched the food map: a delicious, filling, and affordable burger. Zark’s Burgers offers consumers across the country a mouth-watering, go-to burger that will fill them up without breaking the bank. Zark’s winning formula of meatier, larger, and tastier burgers; sit-down service; and value for money has allowed the brand to grow organically over the last three years in a market dominated by large fast-food players on one side and high-end gourmet burger brands on the other. Over nine years, Zark’s has grown from 1 to 42 restaurants across 23 cities.

As a teenager, Zark constantly experimented with recipes, using friends and family as guinea pigs for his creations as he sought to get every dish just right. Zark studied Hotel and Restaurant Management at the Philippine Women’s University and then began his career as a chef at Outback Steakhouse, an American chain. He later joined a Caribbean cruise ship’s kitchen crew, learning how to run a professional kitchen while he spent his free time exploring restaurants and the unique flavors around each port. Zark saved up over two years at sea to start a food business back home in the Philippines. After attempting to run a noodle franchise and seeing mediocre returns, he made the leap to unleash his creativity and build his own brand, finding the perfect launch pad in front of a university. Zark rented a 20m2 space, hired three people, and got to cooking one of his favorite meals: the humble hamburger.

Zark knew that the Philippines lacked a burger joint that served the casual dining market at an accessible price point for the majority of the population. Within days of opening Zark’s Burgers, an hours-long line formed outside the 15-seater restaurant as students caught wind of the huge, juicy burgers – all under $6.

The flavors and culture of Zark’s Burgers are rooted in Filipino tastes and values: low prices for large, flavorful portions. The restaurant embraces the competitive world of sports, with LED TVs streaming basketball games and menu choices ranging from “challenge” options like the Jawbreaker® (eat a triple-patty burger with bacon, spam, and fries in under 5 minutes and the meal is free!) to classics like the quarter-pound Zark’s Ultimate cheeseburger. The 100% all-beef burgers are layered with fresh toppings brought in daily from the company-owned commissary, which allows Zark to control ingredient prices and quality.

Zark’s success and dedication to bringing mouth-watering and affordable burgers to his homeland has won him a number of Filipino hearts – from loyal customers to inspired mentors. Endeavor Philippines is excited about the notion of Zark as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, given the brand’s visibility and market leadership and the entrepreneur’s energy and interest in reinvesting in the local ecosystem. As an ex-Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), Endeavor Philippines believes Zark’s story will inspire OFWs who want to return home to pursue local entrepreneurship as a career. Zark would also be an invaluable F&B ambassador for fast growth brands across the world, joining a strong cohort of recently selected high-growth Endeavor burger brands: Chef Burger in Colombia and Goiko Grill in Spain.

SELECTED IN

Manila ISP, 2018

INDUSTRY

Food & Beverage - Restaurants

ABOUT Zark's Burgers

Founded in 2009 by Rolandrei Viktor "Zark" Varona, Zark's Burgers is a Filipino fast casual burger chain that has created an entirely new burger experience across the Philippines. Dedicated to bringing consumers the best value meal for their money, Zark's Burger's fresh and huge burgers are served with a competitive edge, making consumers enjoy the ride as they sign up for a "challenge" burger or stick to the major leagues.