Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Serves up Juicy Returns with help from Amazon
Following a hearty reception from family and friends of their marinated burgers at a BBQ in 2010, which led to a sizzling national business, a husband-and-wife team’s future growth plans include launching a line of new seasonings, burger sauce condiments, and barbecue sauces. Another goal: Become a top global Amazon seller in their product category.
Meet Chevalo and Monique Wilsondebriano, founders of Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. The couple says their two signature products, Gourmet Burger Marinade and Gourmet Burger Sauce, transform an “ordinary burger into an extraordinary experience.” Their products can also be applied to other food like chicken, turkey, pork, and vegetables.
Develop a recipe for success
The Wilsondebrianos discovered their recipe for business success after the couple’s first date at McDonald’s. Devout hamburger lovers, the two listed what they liked and disliked about the burgers served at an array of restaurants nationwide. After relocating from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina, they created a concoction of natural herbs and spices to add more flavor to their homemade burgers. By engaging in this process, Charleston Gourmet Burger started ”cooking” in 2012.
The entrepreneurial couple’s breakthrough came when they sold grilled hamburgers with their special marinade at local farmers’ markets. Their venture became a hit as the company received reviews from magazines and food editors, which helped them generate $32,000 to finance their condiment bottles.
“Our burger products landed on the shelves of big box retailers and also attracted a television producer, and we were cast on a Food Network Show,” Chevalo says.
The couple sought to replace dry, tasteless homemade burgers in the roughly $30 billion sauces and condiments industry. Monique says Charleston Burgers offers a healthy product without compromising flavor, and her company leverages social media and targeted ads on Facebook to boost the brand’s exposure and health attributes.
To help empower Black chefs, caterers, and others, Chevalo and Monique also launched Recipe For Retail in 2021. The online training program enables anyone—from amateur cooks to professional chefs—to bring their culinary creations to life as packaged products for grocery store shelves.
Finding the right ingredients for growth
Applying the right ingredients to launch their business was no easy feat. Chevalo says they first had to overcome the considerable challenge of learning the fundamentals and processes of operating a food business by consulting industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs who launched retail products in grocery stores.
The Wilsondebrianos effectively promoted their products across the country through a geo-targeting strategy using Facebook ads to support sales. They also pivoted to alternative high-volume manufacturers to keep up with retailer demand.
The couple financed operations by re-investing all profits back into the business. With their product lines mainly sold in Amazon’s store and several other locations, Charleston Gourmet Burger generated revenues in the seven-figure range before the pandemic struck in 2020. Since then, they’ve had to manage supply chain issues and now work closely with Amazon to boost sales.
Moreover, the duo plans to relaunch its frozen, microwaveable burger line this year after shutting down production before the pandemic. “We’re excited about it because it was a popular product among our customers and a top revenue builder for our company,” Monique says. With that move, the Wilsondebrianos project 2023 revenue of about $2 million.
Their distinct backgrounds helped the pair deftly operate the business. A 9/11 World Trade Center survivor, Chevalo served as a medic first responder for the New York Fire Department, while Monique worked as a manager for retail giants Lowe’s Home Improvement and Target Corp. Their experiences helped them learn how to prepare and face any situation—imaginable and unimaginable. Growing up watching her grandmother run a successful hair business across four decades, Monique also gained additional insight into the rigors and unpredictability of entrepreneurship.
Gaining the competitive edge with Amazon
The couple has boosted revenue and customers through participation in Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA), a $150 million commitment over four years to help build sustainable diversity and provide growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses. Monique says the company first connected with Amazon in 2017 and became an active seller after joining the BBA in 2022. Chevalo says the BBA helped the business grow by delivering the knowledge and tools to build its Amazon store, optimize its listings, and become a featured vendor.
Amazon has helped Charleston Gourmet Burger serve up revenues by providing consumers with a recognizable, trusted, and reliable way to order its products, Chevalo says. He explained that Amazon helps boost the business’ exposure by showcasing it on a credible and visible online retailer that everyone knows and can rely on. In addition, Charleston Gourmet Burger was featured as one of Ayesha Curry’s favorite Black-owned businesses in the Amazon store during Black History Month 2023.
Monique says Amazon provides a competitive edge, and they “hope to become the No. 1 product for hamburgers in Amazon’s store.”
Looking ahead, Chevalo wants to see the Charleston Gourmet Burger hit revenue of $5 million to $10 million in the next five years. “We plan to strategically reach that goal by increasing brand awareness across all social platforms and steering customers to Amazon for the sale.”
To shop Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. and discover more Black-owned businesses, visit Amazon’s Buy Black store during Black History Month and Amazon’s storefront all year long, and look for the Black-Owned Business badge.