The management of JR Burgers has pulled the plug on the day-to-day operations of the fast food restaurant after 13 years.
In an interview with Stabroek News, Jad Rahaman, the founder of the restaurant, explained that a competitive market and the high overhead expenses are the reasons behind the decision to close.
The Sandy Babb Street, Kitty restaurant abruptly announced its impending closure on its Facebook page at the end of January.
“The foreign brand fast food giants came in and people started to have more options… and our market is a very small market being and… it got competitive. Guyanese tend to go for the foreign options and we noticed business started to decline after sometime,” Rahaman told Stabroek News.
He further noted that while the business declined, costs kept climbing, making it impossible for the business to stay afloat.
“Overhead was way too high and we weren’t grossing to cover the expenses. GPL and gas, and prices for ingredients were rising. We couldn’t have raised our price higher on customers,” he said, while also acknowledging that some of the business’ own shortcomings are also to be blamed for the closure.
On the announcement of the impending closure, customers pointed out that poor customer service was one area where JR Burgers failed. Rahaman said this was an issue they were aware of.
“You get so consumed in the day-to-day activities that you don’t get the time to sit back and reflect where you were going wrong. So I think this is the time we will have sit back and restructure and look at where we went wrong. We decided we can take a step back, while we still have a good name…,” he said, while indicating that the reopening the business remains a possibility. “…We can take a step back, while we still have a good name… so when we come back we will have a customer base,” he added.
While the restaurant has been closed, the JR Burgers patties are now available in supermarkets around the city.
Meanwhile, the Altitude Cocktail Bar and Grill, which was operated on the top floor of the JR Burgers building, reopened this week.
According to Rahaman, issues with the elevator access to the top floor had contributed significantly to its closure in 2017. The issues have now been resolved, he said, and the bar has been relaunched with an upgraded menu, which will include the “JR” burger.
The ground floor of the building, which housed JR Burgers and the first floor, which housed the Silhouette Restaurant, are being offered for rental.
Just over two and a half years after it was formally launched to afford Guyanese a fine dining experience, Silhouette ceased its day-to-day operations on July 1st, 2016.
Touching on the closure of Silhouette, Rahaman said they “were ahead of time,” despite having a generous clientele for the first six months of operations.
“We couldn’t have sustained it with international chefs. Our time wasn’t right with Silhouette… Maybe a year down the line we will look back at it… the overhead was killing us… A lot of restaurants are supported by hotels,” he explained.
“We could not rely on clients coming once a month for birthdays, anniversaries or so… maybe in the future we will return when the culture changes,” he added.