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September 23, 2015

Five years fancy

When George Fantis took out the lease on a small shopfront in Blackwood it was a homecoming of sorts for the Adelaide businessman with a passion for burgers. Now he's leading the pack.

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  • Words: Joshua Fanning
  • Pictures: Brendan Homan

“I was nine or ten years old working in my parent’s fish and chip shop,” says George Fantis, founder of Fancy Burger. “It was a great environment, all of my cousins were there – it was a proper family business.”

CityMag is sitting with the burger pioneer in his own shop, the first Fancy Burger restaurant, on Main Road, Blackwood. The business has grown over the past five years to three premises, with the CBD store on Synagogue Place and Magill Road opening last year.

Enter any one of these stores and you pick up that family business bustle; the hard work, honest fare and happy staff are all there but so is something else. Intricate, stacked constructions are being ferried from the pass, each more delicious-looking than the last.

A burger whizzes by as we’re talking to George who passes comment on our gaze – “It looks ready to Instagram,” we say with a laugh. He chuckles and with a slightly more serious tone confirms that each burger is absolutely ready for Instagram and goes through at least two quality controls before reaching the table.

“When we’re busy – it goes through three,” says George.

The quality control and delicious militant consistency at the heart of Fancy Burger has been recognized by the internet too.

Zomato, the global restaurant search app that recently replaced Urbanspoon, analysed the data from their vast user base to determine Australia’s favourite burger. George was shocked to discover Fancy Burger at the top of that list.

“We don’t really think about other burger restaurants or what they’re doing interstate but when I was scrolling from 10 up through the list I was a bit disheartened that there were no South Australian restaurants in the mix,” says George.  The fact that Fancy Burger came in first is an immense source of pride for George – and all the more so because they were the only SA brand to be mentioned.

George is seriously proud to call Adelaide home. He travelled to London for work and even Mildura for a stint with gourmet label Stefano’s Preserves, but establishing Fancy Burger was always going to be about South Australia.

“We’re not interested in sourcing out the cheapest product we can bring out,” says George. Continuing, he runs off the supply chain  involved in getting the food from paddock to plate and the reason behind it all – quality.

“We’ve always been about that quality burger, that quality build. Whether you like our really lean patties, all from South Australian grass-fed beef, the buns that are baked locally or even the lettuce,” he says.

“Ricky (the lettuce grower) had to plant more baby cos in order to keep up once we opened the third store.”


“We actually buy from a farmer, out in Virginia, we buy out his entire crop,” says George. “Ricky (the lettuce grower) had to plant more baby cos in order to keep up once we opened the third store.”

And since establishing in 2010 a veritable burger-craze has hit the city with more than 30 new burger brands hitting the market. Shying away from the American style burger as defined by the iconic In-and-Out franchise, George is keen to pioneer an Adelaide taste.

And just as In-and-Out is synonymous with Los Angeles, CityMag feels Fancy Burger could become a solid reason why people look forward to visiting our city.

But George isn’t so lofty in his aspiration. For him, it’s all in the name, really. As long as each and every burger leaves the grill and hits the plate looking and tasting every bit as fancy as his customers expect – then he’s happy.

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