How BurgerFi Started A Burger War With The SWAG - Exclusive

The chicken sandwich wars started back in 2019 between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A. Then, a couple of years later, KFC and McDonald's entered the fray, followed by other fast-food restaurants with their own chicken contributions (via Food Business News). 

But BurgerFi's CEO Julio Ramirez wanted to do something completely different from other chains. He counter-attacked by introducing the SWAG burger in March. "We're trying to lead the charge," Ramirez told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "There was this whole thing about chicken sandwich competition ... Well, we wanted to be the first to start the spicy beef competition, and so that's why we rolled out the SWAG." 

BurgerFi's Chief Culinary Officer, Paul Griffin, agreed that the chicken wars took the industry by storm. "We're going to kick the war up a notch," he told Respect the Chain. BurgerFi means business about throwing down the gauntlet. Even BurgerFi's new Board member Martha Stewart volleyed a challenge to competitors on Instagram: "BurgerFi is initiating the battle of the spicy burgers and bringing the heat with SWAG ... Looking forward to what the other contenders bring to the grill! Who's going to challenge BurgerFi?" 

Since rolling out the SWAG burger, according to Ramirez, BurgerFi's been getting a lot of social media behind it. "So hopefully, a competitor will try and take us on," Ramirez said. "And then we'll go to plan B. We've got a couple of other options ready to go." But why is Ramirez so confident BurgerFi will win the Burger War?

What makes the SWAG burger worthy of a Burger War?

It all starts with the beef. All of BurgerFi's Angus beef burgers are free of antibiotics, hormones, additives, and chemicals (via BurgerFi). For the SWAG, there's a twist: The patties are also made with high-quality wagyu beef — a highly-marbled Japanese beef cattle breed (via

"I'll say this about wagyu," Julio Ramirez told Mashed, "and we've done some consumer insights research on this. It's interesting that a lot of guests don't know what wagyu is, but they all know it's high quality ... and it is."

The SWAG burger is made of a double brisket and wagyu blend burger, jalapeños, sweet tomato relish, habanero pepper jack cheese, candied ghost pepper bacon, and a hot steak sauce (via PR Newswire). If that sounds over-the-top, Ramirez affirms that "it's spicy, but considering how much different spice flavors there are, I didn't find it overwhelming. I actually found that it works very well together, and that's the beauty of chef-inspired food."

Chef Paul Griffin demonstrated how he cooks a SWAG Burger on the Respect the Chain channel. He starts by searing the jalapeños, then puts the beef blend on top. He presses the beef into two patties with a grill-press, which infuses the meat with the caramelized jalapeños. Then, all of the other spicy ingredients are piled on top. The SWAG burger will be on BurgerFi's menu for a limited time. To date, it doesn't seem like BurgerFi's competitors have taken up Ramirez's challenge. And they would have to go pretty far to beat BurgerFi's quality. "It's an even more premium burger," Ramirez said.

To learn more about BurgerFi or find locations near you, visit their website. Follow along with their latest news on Instagram or Facebook.