Saudi Arabia-born burger brand takes design cues from US fast casuals

| by Cherryh Cansler
Saudi Arabia-born burger brand takes design cues from US fast casuals

At the newly opened Burger 8 (from left to right): Howland Blackiston, Principal, King-Casey, USA; Waleed Al Dhuyyan, owner, Burger 8; and Mohammad Al Tabshi, regional director, King-Casey-Arabia.

While many investors in the Middle East have been content to transplant successful American fast casual brands into their culture, one Saudi Arabian brand has been focused on establishing itself as a home-grown burger joint.

Burger Eight, which opened last year in Riyadh, has incorporated design strategies used by American brands, but still appeals to the locals since it's a Saudi-created brand.

"We knew that fresh ingredients and high-quality food could get us in the game but that we needed something more to make us truly memorable and differentiate us from the competition," said Waleed Al Dhyyan, director of Saudi Atad Ltd. and creator of the Burger 8 Group. "That something more was 'design.'"

Downstairs in the singleszonethere are a variety of seating options, some for groups who linger and some for individuals or smaller groups seeking a quick meal on the go. Wall graphics are unique to the brand communicating key brand attributes. 

The goal was to develop a powerful new concept and restaurant design that surpassed all other competing burger concepts in the Gulf region, said John Chrzanowski, director of King-Casey Design, the U.S.-based firm tapped to design and brand Burger Eight.

"When King-Casey develops designs that support our client's positioning and attributes, we take an important step toward creating a 3-Dimensional Brand — that is, a concept whose environment clearly communicates what's different, unique and special about this particular brand," he said.

Chrzanowski and his team got to work on a plan that would demonstrate that the brand was not only a reflection of Arab culture and distinctive in the market, but also: 

  • Youthful
  • Dynamic
  • Fresh
  • Exciting
  • Entertaining
  • Friendly
  • Memorable
  • Inviting
  • Modern
  • And unique

Its positioning is that of a "Saudi fast casual restaurant brand delivering high-quality, freshly prepared, flavorful food in a lively, informal, comfortable Arabesque environment," Chrzanowski said. To convey that, King-Casey relied on several design elements, including incorporating green and brown brand colors with simple modern graphics to display a fresh fast casual vibe. Secondary colors included red, orange and yellow with a touch of recycled wood gave off a youthful vibe.

The restaurant has different and unique seating zones to appeal to the different needs of different customers, which makes it seem comfortable yet lively and exciting, Chrzanowski said.

Also, the firm created a custom wallpaper and décor patterns that not only reflect Arab culture, but are derived from the logo's "8" and incorporated the "8" into the exterior building architecture to give the brand a local yet distinctive look. It also incorporated digital wallpaper with words and phrases that capture the quality and freshness of the food and built an open kitchen at the interior order point with glass exterior walls allow viewing into the kitchen from the drive-thru.

Dhyyan, who traveled extensively in the U.S. to perform market research at leading hamburger chains, eventually hired King-Casey after being impressed by the firm's strong and proven profile.

"Their team has the experience to understand what’s in your mind and translate it into reality," he said. "The net result is that they made my wishes live. Burger 8 looks different than our competitors, from the outside and the inside."

The "8" of the brand identity has been integrated into the building architecture of the building. The high-visibility children’s play area draws in families looking for a fun place to enjoy dinner.

Do's and don'ts of designing a fast casual brand

When it comes to designing or redesigning a brand, Chrzanowski, and his colleague, Howland Blackiston, whose clients have included Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald's, Fazoli's Subway, Jamba Juice and Moe's Southwest Grill, recommend following these do's and don'ts.


  • Lack a solid or clear concept or vision. (It impacts time and cost as this is worked out/revised as redesign work proceeds)
  • Ignore the emerging needs of today's millennials customers
  • Forget that the redesign must anticipate the impact that future digital ordering and delivery may have on the business.  
  • Lack the full team to cover the different disciplines needed to complete the project, including those of the architect, interior designer, contractor, suppliers and others. 
  • Lack adequate funding.
  • Be unrealistic with opening date (not understanding the various steps required and time the process takes).
  • Lack the understanding of all issues that can slow the project like codes, regulations regarding restroom needs and current site conditions.
  • Use building materials that are hard to clean, easily damaged or not conducive to restaurant environments, like not specifying non-slip floors.
  • Try to remain open during a remodel, since this can aggravate customers, interfere with operations and increase the time needed to complete the project. Sometimes if it's a minimal project ins scope, it can be performed in off-hours, but otherwise may negatively affect business and the completion of the project itself. 
    Impactful customer communications,funand excitement for all ages and great tasting Angus beef burgers and hand-cut fries.



  • Lay out a timeline with steps outlining and managing the process to handle unanticipated issues, stay on track and identify who does what.
  • Renovate when business is slow.
  • Budget for the unexpected within the estimated budget.
  • Choose an experienced commercial contractor. 
  • Go high-impact/low-budget. Opt for cosmetic changes like new paint, lighting or new upholstery to re-energize without big capital investment.
  • Periodic renovations. Trying to do everything at once may not be affordable so identify what is essential and concentrate on that.  
  • Communicate interior change through the exterior.

Topics: Restaurant Design / Layout

Cherryh Cansler

Before joining Networld Media Group as director of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group's nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she's written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness. Her byline has appeared in a number of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for

wwwView Cherryh Cansler's profile on LinkedIn

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