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The Makers: Zephyr Burgers

“…you have to take (your ego) out of the equation and put your blinkers on. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. None of that really matters…Success is different to everyone.”

Sheena and Oz have been together for over 7 years, Sheena used to work in Innovation Consultancy doing events and Oz used to be a Video Editor but always had a love for food. Here they tell us about why Zephyr Burgers are so tasty and what they’ve learnt along the way.

How did Zephyr Burgers come to be?

Oz:I always wanted to do something with food but kind of fell into video editing first. It got to the point where I was bored and I wanted to do something different, have my own business.

Sheena:We used to have lots of parties with friends, cooking salt beef, all sorts of different creations. And then more and more people kept saying “Just start a business”.

Oz:We started doing breakfast sandwiches and it didn’t go down that well. The name that we were trading on was Dirty Baps and the logo, which I thought was genius at the time, looked like baps. It just didn’t go down well, we needed a change. I’d always liked the name ‘Zephyr’ from Dogtown and Z Boys, so that’s what we did.

We were pushing these elaborate egg sandwiches, they were expensive to make and it was a hard sell so we had to rethink. We had a residency over at the Great Exhibition pub and we did a cheeseburger because everyone likes a cheeseburger. It was probably the best-seller. Although everyone thinks the burger market is saturated, it’s still what people want. There’s still room for a good burger, I’ve always been into burgers.

I personally didn’t think that there needed to be another burger place but I was really into Californian food culture and the way they were doing burgers over there was different to London. So, I started researching, getting good suppliers and building these burgers that were different to anything else available in London.

Sheena:There’s been a huge trend for the last ten years of burgers being the bigger and juicier the better. But in the end, we wanted simplicity, flavour and something with its own complexities because of how it’s cooked.

Oz:We’re trying to get a feeling of nostalgia in there, invoking the good memories. I think that’s what food is all about.

Has being part of Peckham Levels been different in comparison to being on a high street?

Sheena:We’ve lived in Peckham for about 11 years each so it seemed like the right fit to build our business in our local area. When Peckham Levels came up it was a no brainer. It was about having a place where we could be part of something. We get to meet lots of other business owners to share stories and advice. It’s helped us refine how we run a kitchen full time as a business.

Do you have any tips for someone looking to start their own business?

Oz:Don’t think too much about it because you will learn a lot on the journey and don’t be disappointed if you make mistakes because everyone makes mistakes. Just as long as you learn from those mistakes and allow them to enable you to grow. When you start seeing it work and you can actually live off of your business, it’s the best feeling.

Sheena:You need some sort of ego to think that your business is worth someone buying. But at some point you need to take your ego out of the equation completely and put your blinkers on. Don’t worry about other people are doing, none of that really matters. As long as your product is as good and your customers are getting the best experience and you’re kind to your staff, you can find happiness in any way. You don’t have to be the

What are your plans for the future?

Sheena:One of the best bits of advice we’ve been given is “You only double in size once, opening a second site will be the hardest thing you ever do” so we’re very aware that anything we do now has to be the right thing and the right choice. It’s now a case of “right let’s find some awesome people that want to help that happen”. And taking some time for ourselves this year is probably a great thing after working like crazy for the last year and a half.

Oz:We want our own bricks and mortar, our own seating and to start doing breakfast again, good coffee, that kind of thing. And we’re getting married next month as well! Trying to work out if we’ll be able to do a honeymoon!

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Credit: Ash Chalk (photography & interview)