Posted by BurgerFuel

Whether you’re a local or just passing through Tauranga, you’re on holiday. Surrounded by pristine beaches, the residents are notoriously friendly with a laid back attitude that is infectious to visitors. The same can be said for Rhys, our easy going BurgerFuel franchisee with a love of surfing and whose welcoming smile seems a permanent fixture on his face.

When the surf’s not pumping, you’ll find Rhys overseeing one of his stores in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, Papamoa or Bethlehem. He is strongly supported by an equally passionate and dedicated Area Manager, Fernando, a familiar face to regulars at the stores. It’s easy to see how engaged the staff are and how they thrive under the leadership and mentoring of both Rhys and Fernando.

Originally from Auckland, Rhys studied electrical and electronics at Polytec, subsequently working in that industry for 6 years. He soon realised that it was something he could do, but it wasn't something that he was passionate about. After leaving his job in 2005, renting out his house and saying goodbye to the Big Smoke, he chased a beautiful girl (now his wife) to Tauranga.

He worked in bars and restaurants, with the aim of working his way up the hospo ladder, gaining some skills and knowledge along the way, then one day opening his own bar or restaurant. His life changed, when wife, Nicole, was randomly chatting to a friend whose husband was in the process of buying a new BurgerFuel store on Cameron Road. He needed someone to run it and Rhys didn’t skip a beat, “I loved that it was a cool New Zealand brand, that was a bit edgy. And I loved that it was an opportunity to own my own business”.

Four months later, Rhys had been trained how to flip burgers and was opening the doors of the first BurgerFuel store in the Bay of Plenty. And the rest is history… or if you’re interested, BurgerFuel Mount Maunganui followed in 2007 (originally opening in Bayfair and relocating in 2011 to its current location on Maunganui Road). The Bethlehem store opened in 2016 and more recently, Papamoa locals got their chance for a geographically closer gourmet burger fix in 2018.

Rhys’s passion and loyalty for the brand is always evident at company conferences and get-togethers, where he is never shy to stand up and share his (some might say, relentlessly) positive views with the group. He has a way of turning challenges into an opportunity and seeing a silver lining attached to any problem. When asked what he thinks of the BurgerFuel today, it’s a simple answer “I love the burgers and the people that work in and on the brand”.

Although born and raised in Auckland, Tauranga is now definitely ‘home’, “Tauranga is a naturally beautiful city with lots of wide open spaces that I feel contributes to a general sense of wellbeing, positiveness and happiness in its people” he says of his hometown, “Arriving here in 2005, I have seen many changes. Tauranga is becoming a big city, but still has a small city feel and vibe.  The local community has been, and still is, very supportive of the BurgerFuel brand”.

When Rhys isn’t working on the business or spending time with his family, he has two favourite places to be, “Out in the water, when the waves are up, and in the sauna at Ocean Blue gym. These places are where I get all my best ideas. No phones, just space to think and reflect”.

His BurgerFuel hack: “I tend to change up the protein in my burgers, but they always tend to end up with beetroot, jalapeños, and cheese in them. Always use a doofer”.

BurgerFuel Tauranga: 602 – 610 Cameron Rd, Tauranga South, Tauranga | (07) 571 8677 | Sun – Sat: 11am – 10pm

BurgerFuel Mount Maunganui: 330 Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui, Tauranga | (07) 572 0270 | Sun – Sat: 11am – 10pm

BurgerFuel Papamoa: Fashion Island – 42 Gravatt Rd, Papamoa, Tauranga | (07 572 1070) | Sun – Sat: 11am – 10pm

BurgerFuel Bethlehem: Shop E Bethlehem Town Centre, Tauranga | (07 570 6053) | Sun – Sat: 11am – 10pm