A smashing start for the burgers with a latino twist

If you say the name Babas Burgers & Bites to one of the many hamburger lovers in Stockholm, he or she will probably get a longing look in their eyes. When Babas opened in 2013 in a suburb, it immediately became a success with customers travelling from all over Stockholm to grab a bite of the tasty hamburgers with a latino twist. The many hip-hop artists who found their way to Babas added glamour to the diner. Babas was soon considered to be one of the best hamburger restaurants in Greater Stockholm, a haven for burger enthusiasts appreciated for its friendly atmosphere and high-quality hamburgers at a reasonable price.

The perfect challenge – a strong brand with big potential

In 2016, the founders decided to sell the business due to health issues, and that was when the two partners Mohamed Khalifi and Laurent Basho took over. They were small business entrepreneurs looking for a concept to take over and develop. Babas was the perfect challenge: a strong brand with a big potential, and at the same time suffering from quality problems and declining sales.

‘It is not easy to find a high-quality hamburger restaurant in the suburbs of Stockholm’, says Khalifi when we meet on a sunny day in November. The diner has just opened for the day, and customers are flowing in, many of them apparently well acquainted with the owners.

Revitalising the business and the brand

After nine months of getting to know the business, the new owners realised that they needed to start from the beginning with everything: menu, ingredients, suppliers, personnel etc. At this point they also did market research, asking the customers what they liked about Babas and what they preferred.

‘We revitalised Babas with new blood and new ideas’, says Khalifi. ‘We added the extra quality that makes a difference, for example freshly baked bread and meat of high quality’.

In addition, Khalifi and Basho did a lot of marketing, focusing on their social media channels, influencers and participating in different events. Marketing is still important, and they bring their branded food trucks to events such as a food festival in Stockholm city or events in the local skate park. These activities provide Babas with the opportunity to engage with new customers and gives exposure for the brand.

Believe in yourself, work hard and have a lot of patience

All their efforts led to a turnaround. The result speaks for itself: in a period of three years, Khalifi and Basho have tripled the sales. Today they employ around 40 people in three units in the south of Stockholm. The profit that they make is reinvested in the business. Expansion is made step by step, taking it slow. The long-term goal is to have ten units in Greater Stockholm.

Five tips for succeeding as an entrepreneur

The turnaround of Babas is a valuable example for anyone interested in developing a small business. Khalifi and Basho have five tips for succeeding in developing small businesses:

  • Believe in yourself and what you do. Keep people with good energy around you and stay away from people with bad energy.
  • Do not expect your business to thrive without any marketing. It is just as important as producing and distributing.
  • Do not expect any profit the first year. Most of all, reinvest your profit in the business to develop it.
  • Be ready to work hard. Being an entrepreneur is far from having a nine to five job. Khalifi and Basho worked 12 hours per day, seven days a week the first two years.
  • Have a lot of patience. Success with developing a business takes time and demands endurance.