‘Carl’ burgers inspired by ‘The Walking Dead’ are on their way to Russia

That’s A Burger, Carl!

That’s A Burger, Carl!

Press photo
An internet meme about the character Carl from a popular U.S. TV series about zombies now has a new, unexpected meaning: A Russian businessman is opening a chain of restaurants named “That’s A Burger, Carl.”

A new chain of burger restaurants with a name partly inspired by a meme based on the character Carl from U.S. zombie series The Walking Dead is to open in Russia.

The restaurants, called “That’s A Burger, Carl,” will replace outlets formerly operating under the American franchise Carl's Junior in Yekaterinburg, Perm and Tyumen.

The name of the new burger restaurants is a nod both to the previous incarnation of the fast food outlets and to the Walking Dead meme.

Rick Grimes, one of the post-apocalyptic drama series’ main characters, has become widely mocked online for the frequency with which he calls the name of his son Carl, as well as the odd variation in his pronunciation of the name.

Carl's Junior is a fast-food chain from Southern California, established in the 1940s. It arrived in Russia in 2006 and the first restaurant opened in St. Petersburg. In early 2015 the company announced it was closing 30 restaurants, including all 26 of its Petersburg outlets, for economic reasons. The company has since closed other outlets in a number of other Russian cities.

After two years of working with Carl’s Junior, Russian entrepreneur Sergei Bogodelov was forced to leave the partnership. The reasons are sanctions, the food embargo and the franchise conditions, which turned out to be inflexible during the economic crisis.

"In January 2015, due to the sanctions and the exchange rates, the prices of supplied semi-manufactured goods increased more than twofold," said Sergei Bogodelov.

"As a result the cost of dishes grew by up to 60 percent, while for an enterprise to function normally the indicator should be about 35 percent. On top of it all the franchise agreement prohibited looking for and changing suppliers independently."

According to Bogodelov, since the new suppliers recommended by the American were also offering a list with high prices, in the end he found another supplier on his own, with whom he decided to work directly as part of his own business.

Who invented this, Carl?

Bogodelov’s four new restaurants, named “That’s A Burger, Carl” will open by the end of October. "The Americans' main request is that I don’t use their symbols and illustrations for advertisement and the menu," said the businessman.

The name Carl came from the American brand. The adaptation was suggested by director of the Red Peeper advertising agency Daniil Golovanov.

"Sure, we knew of the meme 'Carl' but it's not true that it was only due to this that we decided to use the name of the character for the restaurant," said Golovanov.

"It was important to play with the word 'burger' and in the beginning the phrase ‘That is a burger, Carl" was created as a slogan for the future establishment. But then we understood that it would be successful for rebranding the name."

"I didn't match the name and the meme right away," said Bogodelov. "But I liked the name. It serves as a strong foundation for advertising slogans. Also, this phrase will be successful in other countries."

However, the Russian businessman does not have any plans on entering the foreign market. For now, in his words, the main aim is to take root in Russia.

The new restaurant's menu will differ from the one that Carl's Junior uses – it will offer three main kinds of burger and get rid of items that require large logistical expenses.

"The most important thing is to maintain the customers that came to our restaurant before, which means 30,000 people a month," said Bogodelov.


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