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Denver's Own Park Burger Dropping Some Flavor on the Middle East

It turns out there's a strong market demand for American cuisine


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Park Burger, originally a divey burger place on Denver’s South Pearl Street, has opened its second restaurant in the Middle East.

The chain now has a restaurant in Muscat, Oman along with its other international franchise in Kuwait City. It also has four other locations around Denver (counting Park & Co. in Uptown).

Park Burger’s proximity to the University of Denver helped make it a popular spot for international business student Fahad Alsebaie and several of his colleagues, who wanted to bring their go-to burger place back to Kuwait. Their proposal to founder Jean-Philippe Failyau and Peter Newlin, who began as a server and is now president, was met with enthusiasm.

“I never thought I’d have an opportunity to oversee and try to figure out how to source jalapenos in the Middle East,” Newlin says. “I just remember going up and down in local markets trying to find all the ingredients to open.”

The culture of hospitality in the Middle East is outstanding, Newlin says, and there’s a strong market demand for American cuisine. The business challenges of setting up shop and training a team abroad have brought cultural benefits, including leadership training, humility, hospitality, loyalty, resourcefulness and creativity.

“It doesn’t really affect our business here, but it provides a lot of fun opportunities for some of our team,” Newlin says. When setting up a franchise in Kuwait City three years ago, four team members trained staff and management over the course of two months. The team hasn’t been to Kuwait since the restaurant opening three years ago, but they’ll (naturally) be dropping by en route to Oman.

Newlin and Failyau don’t plan to franchise Park Burger in the U.S., although the brand is listed on the World Franchise Centre website, and management is keen to explore new opportunities. They frequently receive interest from Egypt, the UAE and elsewhere.

In the wake of Park Burger’s success, Failyau and Newlin have started two other Denver fast casual chains: Homegrown Tap & Dough in 2014 and Birdcall in 2017.

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John Garvey

John Garvey is a business journalist and freelance writer. He has been published in more than half a dozen magazines and news publications, covering the Colorado hemp industry, tech startups, wellness, craft beverages and sustainability, among other topics. A graduate of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprises MBA program at Colorado State University. Contact him at john.garvey01@gmail.com or 316.371.8251.

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