The first hamburger was said to have been created in 1900 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. It subsided of nothing more than a ground meat patty between two slices of bread — but that was all it took to create a foodstuff that’s made 2.36 billion times a year — and that’s just the output from the Golden Arches.
The Australian market arguably reached peak burger boom between 2015–2017, with dyed buns sandwiching too many meat patties, truffle-laden sauces, crisps, chips, cheese and more together. For some, it was fun while it lasted. For others, it was a novelty propelled by social media. But a few burger shops decided to take a different route from the start — one grounded by quality ingredients, simplicity and consistency.
Hospitality talks to Short Order Founder Simon Kony about creating a concept with staying power and how he’s established a business that are continues to expand in the current market.
Short Order Founder and Director Simon Kony was a committed burger fan before going on to open his first Perth store — to the tune of hitting a new burger spot each week with his friends. “We wrote a blog and we’d rate shops and compare them,” he says. “In the back of my mind, I was keeping notes on where they got their buns, their beef ratio and what cheese was good. After a while, I had the right ingredients to make a pretty good burger.”
Kony lived in Melbourne before moving to Perth and noticed there just wasn’t the same burger presence in his new area. “There were a couple of burger places that had been around forever and only a couple of newish ones, so that was where the whole idea started,” he says.
The burger aficionado went on to open the first Short Order store, which was a pop-up, at The Sunshine Harvester Works in 2015. Three years later, Short Order secured a permanent shop in the CBD. “I felt there was a need for us to grow into another area,” says Kony. “You just have to take the risk; the opportunity came up and it was a really good location. The area was in need of a burger shop and we wanted to cement ourselves as a strong brand in the CBD.”
2020 saw the opening of another permanent location, but this time, in Fremantle. The team also made the call to close down the pop-up after five years in operation.
Short Order’s menu is concise at just eight burgers, and championing local produce is very much at the core of the offering. “It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated; it’s simple, fresh ingredients that are mostly locally sourced,” says Kony. “For me, it’s about the quality of the burger, not what crazy shit I can put into it to make it look good on Instagram.”
A tight-knit relationship with Blackwood Valley Beef has also gone a long way to cementing Short Order’s position in the market. “It’s organic grass-fed beef and probably the best in Perth in my mind,” says Kony. “We pride ourselves on our meat being top quality; it’s definitely not the cheapest and we get our beef delivered almost daily so we can make sure it’s fresh. I work very closely with the owner of the farm, which you wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do, and they take a lot of pride in their work.”
Kony attributes Short Order’s continued growth to three things: transparency, quality and consistency. “Being honest and open with customers is really important,” he says. “We make sure everything is the same quality and we don’t change anything; and if we do, it’s only to improve the quality of the burger. Communicating with our customers is what brings people back.”
While Short Order now has two permanent digs, Kony says future locations are definitely on the cards. “We might try to grow a tiny bit more; I’d like to find a way to centralise our prep to increase consistency,” he says. “As for advice on how to stay solid … be transparent with customers, be consistent and always find ways to improve.