Sydney Burgers: Who is Suzie Dukes?
8 August, 2020
If Suzie Dukes was a person, she would be edgy, approachable. The girl next door, she’s cool, but in a way that is effortless. Suzie Dukes is not a person, at least not in this context, but the narrative still applies. The name is an amalgamation of the owners and couple, Suzie and Michael, whose enduring nickname is ‘Dukey’.
Growing up in Mike’s household, the proceeds of small business was what paid the bills. “My Dad owned an electrical store and my Mum had a French bakery. “They would work an ungodly amount of hours so the responsibility of cooking often fell to me”. After-school hours were filled with a plethora of cooking shows such as Iron Chef, the Naked Chef and “my boy” Huey. “I was always intrigued by the cooking methods, and sometimes I would feel brave enough to make something fancy from one of the shows, and more often than not I would fail miserably, but there was one thing I could always smash out of the park, and that
was burgers. My brother and sister would be so excited when I told them I was making burgers, and it made me happy to see them so pumped up.”
“we got through it, and it removed some of my self-doubt, but at the same time I knew I was totally out of my depth"
During his late teens, the fallout of the global financial crisis ravaged the family businesses, eroding them down to Mike’s mother's bakery café as the sole source of income. The circumstances necessitated Mike’s contribution to a family effort to put food on the table. Working at the bakery, Mike acquired some skills in baking, mostly breads and sweets. “One day during lunch service our head chef rage quit and walked out. With all the cooking shows I had watched, I just jumped in to try and get us to the end of service. We got through it, and it removed some of my self-doubt, but at the same time I knew I was totally out of my depth. I knew nothing about the other stuff, like managing stock, food consistency, good preparations or managing costs.”
Mike lacked hospitality knowledge, but not from a lack of willingness, and when the Bakery brought in a consultant to provide guidance for management and the development of procedures, Mike was afforded an opportunity to learn. “The consultant, Daniel Blockley scared me senseless. He had great intentions but he was very strict, very regimented. I learnt so much from him about hospitality, both in the kitchen and the governance aspects.” When the Bakery was sold a year later, Daniel Blockley invited Mike to work alongside him in a new café, which he accepted. “He mentored me for nearly four years. To this day I owe him my success.”
“we were next door, and it was going to affect our business if we had another bad neighbour. So we doubled down and took over the take away shop"
The birth of Suzie Dukes, the venue, came some years later. Mike and his girlfriend Suzie were running a bakery at Ingleburn Village shopping complex, when a takeaway business assumed residence one door down. “We were excited because it could bring people to the centre, but the business failed within 6 months. The centre needed a successful takeaway shop, and I couldn’t risk them leasing it to someone who didn’t know what they were doing, and bringing down the centre. We were next door, and it was going to affect our business if we had another bad neighbour. So we doubled down and took over the take away shop, and that’s how Suzie Dukes was began.”
The premise of Suzie Dukes has always been quality burgers at inclusive prices. “We have six standard burgers, they are simple, but done right.” But, Suzie Dukes has earned a reputation for some extravagant specials. The ‘Slide Indomie DMs’ was a monthly special which featured a whole pack of cooked Mi Goreng noodles. Another popular release was the Cheeseburger Pie, where the bottom bun was substituted for a meat pie in celebration of Australia day. “We have built a reputation for having unique, quality burgers. I believe we have been so successful because we focus on giving the customer a great experience. The customer journey is of utmost importance, from building hype from before they visit the store, to ordering the food and going home satisfied.”
Mike has come a long way from the apprehensive and self-doubting teenager watching cooking shows after school. Proud but never satisfied. The phrase is somewhat cringe-worthy, but equally appropriate. He and his girlfriend Suzy have substantial plans for the future, “We want to broaden our reach. In 2020, we are on track to have two new stores, and another bakery!"
MON TO SAT : 11AM - 830PM
SUN : 11AM - 8PM
Shop 12, 100 Macquarie Road, Ingleburn