5 Years of Real American Cheeseburgers in 5 minutes(ish)
A short story of three friends, one mission and 5 years of cheeseburgers.
Let’s start 6 months BC (Before Cheeseburgers) – After years of conversations in pubs and burger tasting, we (Tom, Charlie & Allan) met over a coffee and discussed the idea of quitting our jobs and setting up a business selling the best cheeseburgers in Newcastle. We settled on the name ‘The Grind’ (more on that later) and that we would get something together in early 2016... It was a lovely meeting filled with ideas, hope and laughter.
Early 2016 - We visited the Quayside Market to query how we might go about having a stall on a Sunday. We met some lovely people and also a guy called Toby (he owns North Shore Coffee). He amongst others gave us some great guidance and encouragement. After this we bit the bullet and the three of us put in what felt like far too much money to buy a tent, a grill, some cool boxes, tables, knives and our first week’s stock. We were all excited and despite the odd creative difference we were all still friends…
13th March 2016 - Day one - We crammed all of our gear into a small hire van and made our way to the Quayside at 6am. We thought we were dead clever, we would definitely get a good spot as we were there first right? Everyone else showed up at 7.55am including the market inspectors and we got placed last. Obviously. We were new and we were just ‘another burger trader’. We sold about 60 burgers on that first day and proceeded to drink all of the money we took in Brewdog that evening.
October 2016 - After months of picking up small events week to week we agreed to move into No28 in Newcastle city centre so we could trade every day. Not long after opening we were delighted to get an amazing review from the Secret Diner. After which we had some stupidly busy shifts in the little kitchen under the stairs but all of them were filled with laughter and beef dripping. Good times all round! We were also joined by Chris who ran the kitchen there and now is manager of our Bigg Market Restaurant. We are delighted that Chris has stayed with us throughout and grown with us, he is our longest serving member of the team.
During this time our debut at Battle of The Burger did a lot for our name, it was the first event where we smashed out over 500 burgers and a lot was learnt. Thank you to the team at 44 for all of their support and encouragement in those early days.
July 2017 - We received ‘the’ letter from a solicitor regarding our name ‘The Grind’. Basically, we have been using the name and they think we shouldn’t be using the name. We were like ‘but that’s our name!’ ‘how dare they!’ and our initial reaction is to keep using the name but after talking to our lawyer we quickly changed our tone. All of this happened in about a day….
11th October 2017 - MEAT:STACK is born! We continued to knock out the same cheeseburgers and as the word spread about our little hiccup, the city of Newcastle got right behind us, it was an incredible time, everyone who was with us through that, thank you. It could have been so much worse but it was our first big challenge as a company and we scraped through.
October 2017 - We opened up a pop up in Edinburgh and started to develop our international growth/spend too much money on beer and crisps on the train. We met some really great people and started to spread our name around Scotland. Ross, Craig, Curtis & Joe were the mainstays up there. They all truly believed in everything we did and were an incredible bunch of lads to have represented Meat:Stack in Scotland. Thank you lads!
9th January 2018 - We opened our beloved Grainger Market unit. Our first real home for Meat:Stack, we always wanted to start this journey in this wonderfully, historic setting and the council finally let us in. It’s a beautiful building and it gave us an awesome backdrop and atmosphere to smash some beef on the grill and get to know you all face to face, rather than being stuck in the kitchen of a bar.
Oh, by the way, we are still friends…
December 2018 - We leave No28 after two wonderful years with the team there and forge a new partnership with Tommy at The Dog & Parrot where we settle in brilliantly to the new kitchen he has built for our burgers! Another excellent person within the Newcastle scene who was a pleasure to work with.
2019 – A year in which we decided it was time to find our first ‘bricks and mortar’ site in the centre of Newcastle. Working with NE1 we found an empty unit on the Bigg Market and started work on creating our vision on a blank canvas. The unit was coming along great, we set our sights on opening in early April 2020 – little did we know what was coming.
March 2020 – PANIC!
None of us knew what was about to strike in March last year, it was completely devastating to so many business’s and families and we decide to close, put the new restaurant on hold (we didn’t know how long for) and take in all the advice from the Government. Over the course of the next month, we tried to get our heads around everything and decided that we needed to be open in some respect to do our part for morale. Making a Cheeseburger is a great way to make people smile. We felt we needed to stay busy and keep going and that we could do it safely, it was our way of coping with everything and boy are we glad we did. We start a delivery and drive-thru system, serving from the Dog & Parrot. Massive thanks to Tommy once again for giving us the keys and letting us keep our business going when we had nowhere else to go.
May 2020 - In the midst of a pandemic, we pressed ahead to get our new restaurant open when things ‘returned to normal’. We spent every spare day we weren’t in the kitchen painting, cleaning & planning. Our Landlord Michael Rye (the shop has been in Michael’s family for a long time) was incredible with us and helped us out in so many ways we lost count. Without his approach, we would not have been able to get this place open.
July 2020 - We opened our Bigg Market shop as the country came out of lockdown. Having recruited some incredible new staff we were all thrown in the deep end of running a busy, high street, fast food takeaway! It all went a bit ballistic and when Eat Out To Help Out came along we all learnt quite quickly how to be as productive as possible…it was mental! It was incredible to see so many people enjoying our Cheeseburgers but also physically exhausting for everyone. We can’t thank our staff for getting through it enough. We are still friends… somehow.
October 2020 until now - Lockdown Again (pretty much)
Since late last year we have been operating as a takeaway, click & collect/delivery service and have also started smashing out our, now famous Stack At Home kits. A lot of pivoting, changing, adapting, crying and the rest.
We cannot wait to get you all in to experience our shop as it is meant to be done - sat at a table with a room filled with awesome people, lots of laughter, chatter and some banging tunes over the speakers. The smell of beef hitting the grill will fill the air and as you take that first bite of your West Coast Classic, then, in that moment, you will know why we met in that cafe 5 years ago.
Today is our 5th birthday and if we have learnt anything it is that we would not be here without you lot. You have been there every step of the way and we can’t wait to share what the next 5 years is going to bring! So if you haven’t jumped on the Meat:Stack Pattie Wagon yet then now is your chance, because it’s only going to get bigger and better. Come, join us!
Oh, we nearly forgot, we are still friends….
Much love from Tom, Charlie, Allan & all at Team:Stack