Thursday 28 March 2013

Beresford Casey - co-founder of Haché - on expansion, burgers, and the Haché family

Haché have just opened their fourth outpost at 147 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3EQ, so it's the perfect time to catch up with Beresford Casey, Haché's co-founder, to find out a little more about one of London's original independent burger restaurants.

This is part of a series of interviews with some of the people behind the burgers in London. Check out my first interview, with Tom Byng, founder of Byron.
Beresford Casey, co-founder of Hache Burgers
Beresford Casey, co-founder of Haché Burgers
I meet Beresford (Berry), and his daughter Camilla, who manages Haché's PR and marketing, in Haché Shoreditch on a Tuesday night. Walking up from Old Street, I think (and not for the first time) that this part of London reads like a who's who of American-style dining venues (some of whom I get on with more than others). Byron, MeatMissionThe Diner, Red Dog Saloon - and they're all located within a few hundred metres of each other.

Berry greets me at the bar, and we all sit down to chat about how Haché started, why it's a 'family' business, and why London's burger hype isn't distracting them from their mission.
Hache Shoreditch
Haché Shoreditch
Hache Shoreditch
Haché Shoreditch
Hamburger Me: Haché Shoreditch has just launched and it's your fourth restaurant - how has it been received?

Berry: We worked really hard to get Shoreditch exactly how we wanted it, and it was only the day before launch that the builders were finally off site. It's been a great launch week and so we've already seen a lot of lunch trade, but Shoreditch is a different market to, say, Camden, and we have two very distinct groups of diners here - the daytime workers and the weekend residents and we need to make sure we're meeting the needs of both. Overall we're very happy with how it's going so far. 

Hamburger Me: I understand Haché is an independent family business, how did it all begin?

Berry: For years I was an Art Director at an ad agency, and got to a point where I had to make a choice between going into management, or making a clean break. I opted for the latter, and we (my wife Suzie and I) launched Haché Camden on Inverness Street in October 2004. The dining concept comes from my love of France (obviously the name comes from the eponymous French dish), and so the influence is overwhelmingly French. In our beef burgers, we've gone for a lean chopped steak with around 5% fat, sourced from a farm in Ayrshire. We previously used Angus beef, but we found the quality wasn't consistent enough. Changing supplier has fixed that, and we get our patties delivered fresh daily - they're never frozen - so our diners are getting the best quality.

Hamburger Me: With the explosion of burger joints in London, how do you see Haché retaining a competitive position?

Berry: Haché's a restaurant. It's not a diner, or a joint - our philosophy is that this is a place couples, groups, and friends can dine in relaxed surroundings and it not break the bank. It was in fact my wife Suzie who had a very clear vision of what Haché should be. It was to be as far removed from the usual burger joints as possible - even romantic - and testimony to that is we're always fully booked for Valentine's day every year. We're not jumping on the trend for dive bars, pop-ups, or overly sloppy burgers - we've got a simple, quality offering that our customers love, and we've seen steady growth which has allowed us to open Haché Shoreditch, so we're happy with our proposition.

Hamburger Me: So, you're keeping the status quo, how do you make sure you don't lose out?

Berry: We're constantly tweaking our proposition. We added the option of a brioche bun to the menu in 2012, (they did - Haché brioche reviewed here) and it's been very popular. We serve a Chef's Special every month - this month we've got a barbeque pulled pork burger (they have, and it's pretty good, check out the pictures below) and we're slaves to the feedback our customers give us - we take it very seriously.

Hamburger Me: On that note, you've got a big menu to fulfil, how do you ensure consistency?

Berry: I'm constantly taste testing, it's something I'm quite hands on with, both on site visits, and more formally when we're testing specials, changing suppliers etc. We find the variety of the menu keeps the staff challenged and our customers like the wide range we offer, too. One fact we're very proud of is around 60% of our original staff from when Camden opened in 2004 are still with us - they're like family and they feel real ownership working for Haché.

Hamburger Me: Wow, 60% of your original staff have been with you for over 9 years. That's impressive!

Berry: Yes, that's right - many of our managers and chefs started with us and have moved up the ranks within the company. We've got a real family culture - and if you have a talent, we're keen to see it realised - one member of staff is a design graduate. I gave her a brief and she's done an amazing job helping design this Shoreditch restaurant!

I'm intrigued by what's going on here...!

Hamburger Me: So what's your most popular burger at Haché?

Berry: Our classic cheeseburger is our best selling burger, followed by the Canadian (Haché's bacon cheeseburger).

Hamburger Me: And how many burgers are you selling a week across the Haché properties?

Berry: We're selling 6,000+ burgers a week at the moment, but that's less important to us than our focus on ensuring we're delivering quality.

Hamburger Me: And aside from Haché (of course) what's your favourite burger in London?

Berry: Bar Boulud Piggy Burger.

Hamburger Me: Much has been said about the ciabatta/brioche debate - which is more popular?

Berry: Brioche. We've listened to feedback and as I mentioned, we added the brioche bun to the menu in 2012. It's grown in popularity over the last year.

Hamburger Me: So would you choose brioche or ciabatta? 

Berry: Brioche.

Hamburger Me: Blue cheese or cheddar?

Berry: Blue cheese.

Hamburger Me: Single or double patty?

Berry: Single.

Hamburger Me: What plans do you have for expansion beyond Shoreditch?

Berry: Haché has, to date, been privately financed, which has many advantages in terms of making our own decisions and our ability to motivate staff. It also means we expand only when we're ready so we can make sure we get things right. We aim for locations slightly off the beaten track (yes it avoids the high rents) and we do have a couple of potential sites in mind, but we're very much focusing on ensuring Shoreditch beds-in and is as much of a success as our other restaurants.


All the while we're chatting, we're testing a few of Haché's dishes (pictured below), and while I wouldn't change my solid rating of 8/10 from Jan 2012, I would highlight a few dishes I hadn't tried before which are worth sampling. Oh, and a couple more shots of the Canadian (the Haché bacon cheeseburger). 
Sweet potato fries
Sweet potato fries - perfectly crispy with a fluffy centre.
Pullled Pork burger
Pulled pork burger with rasher of streaky bacon and onion ring
Hache Canadian Burger
Haché Canadian burger
Haché Canadian Burger cut-through
Haché Canadian burger cut-through
Haché Shoreditch is located at 147 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QE.

Square Meal

Hache Shoreditch on Urbanspoon


  1. Heisenburger128 March, 2013

    The Canadian bacon hache, looks to good to be true. I'm going to have to track one down, only problem, which Hache to go to.

    Great post as always dude. Good to know about the people behind the scenes

  2. Thanks dude - the bacon is a streaky upgrade to the previous dry cure - worth adding some extra seasoning as it's lightly done.

  3. Did he mention the Hache in Copenhagen?! It was quite similar in style, logo, concept etc. though the burgers were not as good.


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