From the humble streets of Marleston, to the bright lights of Shenzhen, Adelaide restaurant, Boneshaker, is cooking up success on the global stage, expanding with three new sites in China.
The family-style restaurant which started off as a burger bar in Australia’s largest indoor BMX park, set out to tackle the Chinese market one Aussie beef burger at a time.
After opening more than forty restaurants in eight different countries around the world and cooking for celebrities and royalty, owner Billy Petropoulos used his experience to create a recipe for success.
“During my first visit to China, I noticed that the market had really adapted to western food and I really enjoyed working and communicating with the people there.
“I had worked in Japan and Korean, but China was one country I hadn’t been yet… It’s a big market, the fastest growing country in the world so that’s where I found myself,” said Billy.
Known as the Silicon Valley of China, where the average age is twenty-eight, elderly people are almost non-existent and sports cars are as common place as its eight-lane highways, Shenzhen, became Boneshaker’s first international testing ground.
Billy noticed that whilst the Hong Kong food scene had a strong western influence, despite being right on the border, Shenzhen’s population of over 12 million was a relatively untapped market.
“In Shenzhen no one speaks English, let alone has western restaurants, so we thought it was the perfect destination to test the market and see if China was adaptable and able to understand the western culture,” said Billy.
Boneshaker set out to create its own category of burgers, concentrating on value for money, something for everyone and quality ingredients.
“Our biggest seller in China is the full Aussie burger, which is bursting with your classic fried egg, crispy bacon, beetroot, so sort of that fish and chip shop, that café corner, that on the beach sort of burger.
“A lot of people in the Chinese market don’t even know what beetroot is, a friend egg on a burger is unheard of and it’s also a big burger for the Chinese market, but they love it,” said Billy.
As well as Aussie flavours, Billy is also flying the South Australian flag introducing local produce and brands to the menu in China, including SA beef, Coopers Beer, local craft beers, UHT milks, coffee beans and a range of sauces.
For the past year Billy has put in the hard yards, flying back and forth between China and Adelaide with his young family, with two sites in Shenzhen, a third in Hangzhou and a fourth store in sight. “It’s pretty hectic with travel and with the company’s growth, but it’s great I get to share it with my family and see my two-year-old daughter experience things most other children don’t,” said Billy.
Whilst many other South Australian restaurants have tried but failed to capture the Chinese market, Billy was able to tackle each obstacle and hurdle the market threw at him.
“Apart from the cultural difference and language barrier, one of the biggest difficulties was Boneshaker’s name… There is no direct translation for Boneshaker so the Chinese can’t physically type it on their phones to look up, so we had to develop a system based on popular numbers and colours instead,” said Billy.
With Boneshaker’s expansion, also comes its revamp in Adelaide, with Billy using his experience abroad to bring back Chinese flavours, spices, a different style of eating and value for money.
“With my international experience in restaurants and understanding of the food scene I believe Boneshaker needed to grow.
“We are very excited to be launching a brand new breakfast, lunch and dinner menu which will include some extra Chinese flavours… We’ve also quadrupled the kid’s menu so you’ll have to watch this space,” said Billy.
Boneshaker is located inside Pumpt skate park at Marleston.
WHERE: 221 Marion Rd, Marleston