The Birth of Royal Stacks
15 January, 2020
Royal Stacks is a recognisable name to even the most casual of Melbourne burger lovers, but the circumstances which spawned its inception may be lesser known.
The origins of ‘Stacks’, and some of Melbourne’s most adored meat between buns, can be traced to 2013 and the South-Eastern burb of Dandenong. Here, Dani Zeini operated the reputable family restaurant, The Dandenong Pavilion. Whilst holidaying in the United States, Dani was introduced to a class and style of burgers that was all but unavailable in Australia, where the Aussie Fish n’ Chip style burger was very much the known form. Potato Rolls, smashed beef patties, snug paper wrapping and a more manageably-sized package were all features of burgers with flavour unlike any he had ever tasted, the classic American hamburger.
The encounters effect was profound, and enough to redirect his entrepreneurial efforts into somewhat foreign waters. Dani knew Australia needed something similar, be it with an identity of its own.
“the trickiest part for me was trying to duplicate something I had never tasted before”
Chef Terri Tep, working at the Dandenong Pavilion, took on the formidable assignment of constructing an inspired product, to carve out an Australian take on, and flattering tribute to, the quintessential US style burger, “the trickiest part for me was trying to duplicate something I had never tasted before”. What followed was months of arduous back and forth between the determined duo, marked by start-overs, minor adjustments and calculated refinement, “it took us 5-6 months of development and a lot of trial and error. I remember trawling the internet, reading reviews of how different people described the texture of certain American patties”.
The culmination of the exhaustive efforts was the Classic Beef burger, which was “such a hit with our customers that we started experimenting with anything and everything burgers, and doing specials. We started to get people from all over Melbourne coming in to try our creations”.
The popularity and success of Dandenong Pavilion’s burgers demanded a specialty burger outlet, and Dani opened the doors of Grand Trailer Park Taverna on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition streets twelve months later. The setting pays homage to, and evokes nostalgic feelings of, the vintage US ‘trailer park’ vacation for its visitors, even for those whose childhoods never featured such memories. But it was the burgers which kept, and keep, people coming back to GTPT. The now iconic ‘McDowell’, wielding double Aussie beef patties, double American Cheddar, Double Swiss Cheese, lettuce and McDowell sauce trumped all competitors as Melbourne’s numero uno burger, in The Age Epicure authored by Nat Stockley.
“We saw an opportunity to not only take our burgers overseas, but to introduce the whole concept of Royal Stacks"
Soon after came the unveiling of the first Royal Stacks store on Collins Street. Fast-forward four hectic years, and RS boasts five locations, a food truck, and a calculated, well-balanced menu which is undoubtedly US inspired, but with a unique identity which is very much ‘Stacks’. The cornerstones of its success are undoubtedly consistency and quality, “We pride ourselves on using only 100% Australian beef, pasture fed, GMO free with no antibiotics or hormones at any time. So much so that we ship the beef to China from home”, Chef Terri.
The product quality, combined with slick branding, defined by vibrant colours and a swagger which is both urban and clean, seems to resonate with the Asian market, and has led the restaurants expansion into two Chinese locations. “We saw an opportunity to not only take our burgers overseas, but to introduce the whole concept of Royal Stacks, and show foreigners what our premium Australian burgers are about.”
For Royal Stack virgins, Head Chef Terri’s recommendation is the ‘Single Stack’ saying “it’s our classic and defines what we are all about. It is simple, well-balanced, you can’t go wrong”.
Royal Stacks CBD
MON TO SAT : 1130AM - 10PM
SUN : 1130AM - 9PM
470 Collins Street, Melbourne