How to Deliver a Slice of Home to your Family-Owned Business
By Art and Peggy Hannemann, Founders of Seven Brothers Burgers
We live in a world with more noise and distraction than ever before; screens here, ads there, and a seemingly endless chorus of voices telling you to buy something or think something. Imagine what it’s like to be a small business owner figuring out how to cut through all this noise with a unique idea of your own. It’s easy to sit back and say, “I have a great burger. Just try it!” What comes next—the why—is the true driving force behind whether a customer even decides to come through your restaurant’s doors.
In truth, Seven Brothers Burgers and the reasoning behind each stylistic choice, each menu option, all circles back to when a California girl met a Samoan surfer back in 1976. After having all boys and only boys despite longing for a daughter, we worked to enstill good family values and Christ-centered beliefs in each and every one of our boys. When we randomly decided to buy a hole-in-the-wall burger joint in 2012, We were overwhelmed—how on Earth could we manage to translate a lifetime of wisdom and family into one small restaurant?
While it may seem like an impossibility to find a way to pay proper tribute to your family when embarking on a quest to run a family-owned business, if you take time to dig deep and look around you, you can find plenty of ways to tell your story using the things around you. For Seven Brothers Burgers, we knew the menu would have to be a big deal. It is, after all, a burger joint, and people love their burgers. To be concise: to thrive in this business, you better be able to make a really good burger. But even more than that, your burger has to stand out amongst the burgers down the street, or even your biggest competitor several states away.
Each of the burgers on our menu are named after something that is uniquely ‘us,’ something that you can’t replicate. We don’t just mean the ingredients. For example, our “Max,” “Teri,” “Shem,” “Spencer,” and “Seven Brothers” burgers are all named after us. “The Keep Country, Country” is a nod of respect to our roots, and “Mom’s Banana Bread” …. Well, that recipe stays in the family vault, but because you know it’s a Hannemann family recipe, you know it’s going to be good! These menu items are not just concepts; they were created with our love and our history in mind to fully flesh out the flavor profile and overall vibe.
While design choices are limited by architecture and location, there are still plenty of ways to create an atmosphere that is just right. For us, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to capture the spirit and feeling of “Aloha” and translate that into each and every location once we started to expand through franchising. Would it be possible to bite into a Paniolo Burger and taste that authentic strip of Kahuku sitting in a Seven Brothers Burgers located in the middle of a busy metropolitan area, or a desert?
As it turns out, you can! With plenty of thought and dedication, we were able to come up with a concept that made it seem like you’re right on the North Shore of Oahu, with the waves crashing and the sun blazing. Everything, from then on out, will flesh out the experience—your staff, your menu, your atmosphere (music and all), and so on. We are firm believers that with the right ambition and dedication to telling a story worth sharing, it’s possible to create that dream family business without losing your integrity or core value and giving each customer a feeling they can’t forget.