Beyond Burgers: Three talking points from lunch at Supernova, Soho

Insights Lab tackles smash burgers at the smash-hit Supernova in London's Soho, with the power of singular formats and hotel design nods both key takeaways
A burger from Supernova in Soho
For those of you not in the know, Supernova is a newly-opened smash burger joint in London's bustling Soho. It's the latest restaurant offering from London hospitality company, BVC Group, and it opened its doors at the end of September.

Since then, it's frankly taken the capital by storm, amassing over 10k followers on Instagram since launch; commanding lengthy queues for the four hours it's open, 12pm to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday; and becoming the talk of the town for its startlingly simple menu and gloriously chic design.

Supernova is all about the cheeseburger, with Classic and House options backed up by fresh fries and smooth sundaes. And while the food offer is seemingly straightforward, Supernova is standing out as one of the most talked about London openings of the past year.

So, the other week, we joined the queue to experience it for ourselves.

And, as a collective of chef experts, trend specialists and brand strategists, Insights Lab takes everything into account, with Supernova's remarkable rise to fame a superb example of how the combination of a concise brand identity, a simplified menu, and a showstopping design strategy can immediately spell 'viral' even in the most expectant of foodie communities.

The Menu:
The Power of One
The Supernova menu, October 2023
First off, the menu, which is 25-words long. As you can see from the photo, things couldn't be clearer (or simpler): cheeseburgers, fries, sundae, Coke.

It should be said that Supernova also offers water, Corona beer, iced tea, lemonade, and Diet Coke - but it's not important. It doesn't change the fact that this is a menu that absolutely pushes a singular offer.

"We do cheeseburgers", it says. But what it doesn't say, it practically screams: "We do cheeseburgers so well that it's all we do".

And doesn't that just prick your ears.

Supernova could very easily have been just another American burger operation, accommodating multiple build styles, chicken- or vegan-based burger alternatives, salads, starters - the list goes on.

But the focus here is on the 'Singular Format' concept - namely hyper-streamlined menu architecture that alludes to considerable operational capabilities and serious dish quality.

And for the restaurant, it simplifies the back and front of house, keeping costs tight; it keeps things clear for the customer; and it produces a standout story to hang its PR off of.
Food Trend to Food Concept

What to expect:

  • Understand the state-of-play with Asian-inspired chicken with an expert-led overview, innovator examples, and a spotlight on potential opportunity areas for the UK market.

  • Journey with us through fried/breaded chicken seasoning opportunities, exploring viable retail applications and digesting analysis.

  • Discover a brand-new retail seasoning concept as an example of our 'trend to concept' methodology, with the team discussing ingredient builds and suitability for the UK market.

  • Understand possible range expansions, backed up by AI-led product concept showcases.

The Food:
(Almost) Smashed It
Supernova's House Cheeseburgers being prepared
Supernova is not McDonald's. And by that, we're really talking the Michael Keaton film, The Founder.

The brand hasn't gone with an intricate operational matrix, one that might once have been drawn out in chalk on a tennis court to optimise efficiency and increase the speed of delivery beyond the comprehension of folks from the 50s.

But this isn't about temperature-controlled holding cabinets and conveyor belt service. Supernova is about the show - it's a small team with a big personality performing in an open kitchen. And the wait time only adds to the anticipation.

And so, after a 20-minute wait in the queue, and a short time eagerly clutching a ticket and doing a bit of filming; we got to try the Supernova cheeseburger (well, both of them).

The Classic Cheeseburger (£9) boasts a classic build - two smashed beef patties with American cheese, pickles, onions, mustard and ketchup. And it was all fine margins.

For us, there was just a touch too much mustard, but the butter-rolled buns had the perfect amount of give without completely falling apart. No complaints on the patty or the cheese - it's a smash burger, pure and simple.

Meanwhile, the House Cheeseburger (£9) looks to go one step further, with Supernova's house sauce taking over from the mustard/ketchup axis of the Classic. That's the only change, but it's a solid one, with the Supernova signature bringing artisanal burger sauce vibes.

Speaking of McDonald's; the fries (£3) were exactly that - and that's a good thing. Although Supernova's clearly-secret salt blend - seen with red flecks in its not-so-secret salt shaker - sadly didn't deliver anything out of the ordinary.
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The Design:
Hotel Design meets Burger Shop
Dorothée Meilichzon's rounded ceiling is a defining feature for the entire operation
The real genius of Supernova is, arguably, its strikingly clean, beautifully bright, altogether minimalist design.

Yes, you've got trendy LA-esque smash burgers. And you've a tantalisingly small menu based around that single food concept. But what's going to make you really stand out? How about getting an award-winning hotel interior designer to do your restaurant?

Dorothée Meilichzon, who is also behind BVC Group's Crème Cookie interiors, is that designer, with her "very round" style translating amazingly well as part of a burger shop scenario.

With specs described as "brushed aluminium, granito floor, grooved stainless steel and a luminous ceiling"; Meilichzon has instilled a true sense of aesthetic difference at Supernova, blending 'hotel foyer' and 'reception desk' with American diner, applying her satisfyingly rounded style throughout, and bathing the lot in appealingly muted yellow tones.

The stunning curvature of the ceiling, with the written menu sloping down on the edge instead of being fixed to the wall, could easily outlast Supernova's burgers, as momentum on social media goes.

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