JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.
With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.
Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.
Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.
“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.
“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”
In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.
Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.
“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.
“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.
Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.
“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.
“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.
Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.
“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.
“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.
Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.
“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.
“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.