Editorial by Murray Wong

With the return of The Coast’s Burger Week, I’m back again with my Burger Week By the Numbers – a deep dive into the data and trends of the participants giving a portion of their burger proceeds to Feed Nova Scotia. The data has been gathered from previous years’ burger passports and editions of The Coast to see the trends since the start of Burger Week back in 2013 (2014’s donation data was not available).

The ranks of participating vendors continued to swell, with 36 additional restaurants now selling Feed NS burgers. That isn’t to say there hasn’t been any attrition though; 11 places are no longer participating in the Feed NS burger category. Of those, 2 are now doing the $6 burger for Burger Week, 4 closed up shop completely, and 5 are no longer participating in Burger Week at all.

The trends that I spelled out last year have unfortunately continued, as the average nominal donation and the average donation as a percentage of the burger’s price have both maintained a downward trajectory. After a ~4% slide from last year, the average donation per Feed NS burger is now just $1.56. Combined with a 2% increase in the average price of a burger to $13.26, the average donation percentage is now 11.73%.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope for change either, as both new entrants and established participants pick away at the numbers. New participants have an average donation of $1.39, or 16.3% less than restaurants that were slinging Feed NS burgers this year and last year. And while 12 restaurants increased their donation percentages year-over-year, 27 decreased it.

That isn’t to say that change hasn’t happened at the level of the individual restaurant. As you’ll see below, three of last year’s worst donators (Durty Nelly’s, Stubborn Goat and Antojo) have upped their game. While it wasn’t enough to get them close to the top of the pile, it got them out of the basement.

The following should be taken with a grain of salt. Different types of burgers have different input costs, and a given restaurant has its own unique cost structure. That being said, they still deserve the bright light of day.

Top donators as a percentage of burger price:

  1. The Old Triangle @ 33.33% (back-to-back years at the top!)
  2. Tie: Eliot and Vine, La Frasca, and Bicycle Thief all @ 25%
  3. Chives @ 25%

Lowest donations as a percentage (of those donating): 

  1. Tie between new entrants The Canteen and The Exchange @ 5.56%
  2. Tie: elements on hollis, Harbourstone Sea Grill, Station Six, 3Sixty Bar all @ 5.88%
  3. Rasa – Flavours of India @ 6.06%

Largest percentage increases year-over-year in donations as a percentage of burger price:

  1. Tie: Durty Nelly’s and Gahan House@ 113.33%
  2. Tie: enVie, The Stubborn Goat, and Barrington Steakhouse @ 100%
  3. Antojo Tacos + Tequila @ 88.89%

Largest percentage decreases year-over-year in donations as a percentage of burger price:

  1. 3Sixty Bar @ -61.76%
  2. Harbourstone Sea Grill @ -58.82%
  3. Tempo Food + Drink  @ -53.33%

 

In closing, I’ll same the same thing I said last year, because (1) it still stands and (2) copy and pasting is so damn easy.

I think what The Coast and Burger Week participants which are donating to Feed Nova Scotia are doing a great thing. It brings attention to Halifax’s thriving food scene and raises money for a charity at the same time.

However, that doesn’t mean that a better job can’t be done. Donations could be higher, especially since they’re a tax write off for the businesses,(clarification: restaurants do not receive a tax donation from Feed Nova Scotia.) and The Coast could make it mandatory that ALL Burger Week participants donate at least one dollar per burger to Feed Nova Scotia. Is your average Burger Week gorger going to not show up because their $6 burger now costs $7? No.

With this information out there, it’s up to individual consumers and businesses to choose how they react. Choose wisely.

 

Murray Wong is a Nova Scotian expat living in Ottawa. Find this same data in more shareable form on Twitter @murraywong and check out his blog Eat This Town – Ottawa for the Ottawa branch of Halifax’s favourite, award-winning food blog, Eat This Town. You’ll find him chasing down the best food trucks, Chinese food, and Halifax-style donairs in the nation’s capital, and waxing nostalgic about Pictou County pizza. In his spare time, he’ll be pickling vegetables or his liver, and using Simpsons references for every imaginable situation