Like most people who start food businesses, Troy Bilbrough and his brothers originally had other career plans. Troy was studying for his commercial pilots licence, and his brothers were studying at Canterbury University. ‘I learned to cook by working in a restaurant called the Town Tonic under a Chef called Jamie Bennett when I was at University,’ says Troy, who admits to have always enjoyed cooking since the age of five, but the aim was always to fly.
After the devastating earthquake of 2011, three brothers launched a food truck with a difference – every burger and bun came with a free hug. And now they’re taking the next step on their journey.
Then in 2011 a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the region, killing 185 people in Christchurch and destroying buildings and businesses. ‘The city was in ruins and not many food options were available. My brothers and I started cooking bacon at the local Riccarton Bush Markets. It started off as something fun to do on the weekend, and helped pay our rent and University fees,’ says Troy.
But over time, not only did the brothers grow to love what they were doing, but the public began to really enjoy what they cooked – Bacon Bros. was born. ‘We quickly gained a cult following among local Cantabrians and further around the country. People loved what we did as all our produce was local, fresh and free range, our team were friendly and we offered a burger that came with a free hug – the only burger in the world to do so.’
Troy’s food truck continued to sell burgers and buns around town, but after finishing his studies and gaining his pilot’s licence, he decided that he wanted to park the bus and put down roots. ‘I wanted to make Bacon Bros. a permanent part of the rebuilt Christchurch city after the quakes,’ he says. So after five years, burger by burger and happy customer by happy customer, they’ve finally achieved their goal. ‘In January this year we started the build which we’re hoping to complete by April 24, 2017,’ Troy says.
The Bros’ best selling bun is the happy buttie, which includes bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, hash brown, cheese, egg, aioli and BBQ sauce, as well as the free hug. ‘We are taking our food truck vibe into the burger bar and will have a food truck parked inside the shop, free hugs will be given to all customers and we are staying with our local bakers and farmers. That way we are keeping honest to our original Bacon Bros. values.’