Bënnie Organic Fast Food or Bënnie for friends… This fast food from Lyon, formerly known as Burger & Wells, changed its name in October 2020 to further assert an organic and local identity.
Camille Candela, its founder, took advantage of the health crisis to refine its concept. “The first confinement allowed us to take a step back. It was an opportunity to do what we had wanted for a long time but had not yet dared to launch,” explains the entrepreneur.
Organic and local suppliers
Starting with 100% organic and local dishes. “Since opening in 2016, we already had an organic-oriented fast food positioning. But then we only had 30% organic ingredients for our recipes. We had to take the time to create a channel directly from the producers and, for some, convince them to adapt their products to the needs of restaurateurs like us”, continues Camille Candela.
Ketchup, for example, was only offered organically in 200 ml jars not suitable for catering. So the leader of Bënnie encouraged his supplier to change the container for 5 kg pots which better meet the requirements of catering professionals. “Today, he has added it to his catalog and, who knows, other restaurateurs will also be able to buy organic ketchup,” rejoices Camille Candela.
Building relationships directly with producers therefore took time, but it was the necessary condition for saving on intermediary costs and practicing affordable prices in restaurants, in line with the price positioning expected of a fast food restaurant. “Today, our first formula is at 11.95 euros for a burger with fries or salad and a drink,” he adds.
The development of a local sector also makes it possible to save on transport and logistics costs, in addition to limiting the carbon footprint. “And then, we focus on volume rather than margin with 250 covers per day on average and peaks at 400 at weekends. »
But this operation has a drawback: that of multiplying the number of suppliers. “Compared to a traditional restaurant which has 4 or 5 different ones, we work with around twenty suppliers, which is a real headache in terms of accounting! Fortunately, we rely on specific software to manage inventory, forecast sales and place purchase orders. »
No more tomatoes in winter!
By changing its name, Bënnie has also changed its menu: fast food in Lyon still offers two a year – one in summer and one in winter – but with 50% vegetarian dishes and each evolves over time to offer only seasonal products. The tomato in winter, it’s over!
And since the engine of these novelties is greater respect for the environment, the lawyer also left the adventure. “Removing avocado from our menu was a huge gamble, because it was the key ingredient in our star burger,” says Camille Candela. In addition to representing 18% of our sales, it had become our signature burger. Some clients only came to us for him. »
Employees sometimes had to be pedagogical to explain to clients why the lawyer had gone off the map, and to face certain criticisms on social networks. “Finally, this choice is perfectly assumed. We’ve even made it into ‘I’m quitting the lawyer’ stickers that customers can take home. »
Quickly, the founder of Bënnie thought of a new signature burger to take over. A tailor-made mission for this trained cook who has worked in several starred establishments. “I was inspired by Scandinavian cuisine and worked with berries. Today, our gouda bacon blueberry jam burger is one of our best sellers. “Not having cold eyes, Camille Candela also released an ephemeral burger during the third confinement… at the CBD! “This product makes a lot of people fantasize and the operation went well. It also made us talk a lot, with around sixty press releases, including internationally. »
Reduce disposable, cutlery and glasses
Bënnie’s new hobbyhorse to become even greener is “zero waste”. Fast food began by no longer offering water bottles for sale to limit plastics. Instead, he installed a water fountain distributing still and sparkling water, freely accessible. Here again, the choice is made to give up part of the turnover, around 8,000 euros per year.
“In this case too, it was necessary to show pedagogy, recognizes Camille Candela. At first, customers did not necessarily have the reflex to come with their own water bottle. So we added a washable glass cup for on-site consumption and a disposable cup, this one we charge for, when it comes to a take-out order. »
The dishes on site are now fully washable – “two years before the legal obligation”, welcomes Camille Candela – but there is still a long way to go for take-out and delivery. For now, the cutlery is chargeable, which motivates most customers to give it up and therefore use their own cutlery. But we are already working on compostable containers and a glass deposit system. “To do this, we simply had to invest in a dishwashing machine amortized over 3 to 5 years, which is therefore cheaper for us than continuing with disposable dishes, and in a deposit box with QR code. »
With the health crisis, the brand made the decision to close its second point of sale in Chamonix. It has seen its turnover melt, going from 1.2 million in 2019 to 600,000 euros in 2020 and 2021. Camille Candela hopes that Bënnie’s new positioning will be a successful bet on the future.