On August 23rd, the first of nine Teddy’s Bigger Burgers restaurants opened in Makati City, Philippines, to huge acclaim. Founded in 1998 by Ted Tsakiris, his friend Richard Stula and their wives, Teddy’s brought the deliciousness of South Shore burgers to a global stage. Since 2001 its burgers have been voted number one in the entire state of Hawai‘i by consumers. In addition to the new Philippines locations, Teddy’s has restaurants, already in operation or planned, in Hawai‘i, Washington, Iowa, California, Texas, and Tokyo, Japan.
The opening of this new restaurant also marks the first international franchise of SumoBurger Global, which partnered with Teddy’s in entering the Philippine market. It was through this partnership that Teddy’s also entered SumoBurger’s local market in Tokyo. Together, they have adapted the Philippines branch to fit local tastes. It is the only Teddy’s with a “specials” menu, which contains chicken tenders, fish and chips, sweet Tiki Wings, and the Loco Moco burger, which includes steamed rice, gravy, and an egg on top of the patty.
With about $1.6 million in annual sales at each of their US locations, Teddy’s expects the same success in the Philippines market. Like their Tokyo location, Mr. Stula sees these new locations as a jumping off point for reaching more customers in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia. By year’s end Teddy’s will open two other Philippines restaurants in Mandaluyong City (October) and Eastwood City (November).
In addition to a love of gourmet burgers, Hawai‘i and the Philippines share an extensive network of ties. Hawai‘i and the Philippines share 66 sister state and sister city relationships. Cultural ties are strong thanks to the 342,000 Filipinos that live in Hawai‘i, accounting for 18% of the state’s Asian American population. The Teddy’s locations will strengthen the economic connections between the two, as well. In 2013, Hawai'i exported over $3.8 million worth of goods to the Philippines.
UPDATE: On September 9th, it was announced that Teddy's will also open two locations in Thailand by early 2015, expanding the chain's reach into the Asian market. The decision was based partly on the strong performance that the new Philippine location has already achieved.
Sarah Batiuk is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC.