Meet the Owners: Josh Barlow and Brody Jenkins, Jo Bro’s Burgers

Behind the beloved Auckland Burger restaurant and food truck, Jo Bro's Burgers, are a pair of talented chefs and best mates - Josh Barlow and Brody Jenkins.

Barlow began his journey into hospitality in Hamilton before working abroad in restaurants in Sydney and London. When he returned to New Zealand in 2015, he took on the role of head chef at The Grove, where he met Jenkins.

Originally from Huia, West Auckland, Jenkins first entered hospitality when he took up a chef apprenticeship at Skycity. After working there for nine years across 18 of its kitchens and restaurants, he moved to The Grove and met Barlow.

The two quickly became great friends, which led to the pair joining forces and opening a food truck - creating Jo Bro's Burgers.

Inspired by the old-school American burgers featured in George Motz's videos and American burger joints like In N Out, Barlow and Jenkins wanted to create fresh, simple, flavourful burgers using quality and local ingredients.

"We pack as much flavour into our burgers as we can without over-complicating them," said Barlow.

Jenkins added that "I've cooked a lot of cuisines and styles in my time, but what I find the most enjoyment in is simple, no-fuss comfort food that everyone can afford and enjoy."

Recently, Jo Bro's Burgers has teamed up for a brand collaboration with MINI to shoot a promotional video for the car brand's EV. They have also made their burger sauce completely vegan.

"It was an achievement to make the most tasty burger sauce in New Zealand and another step in the right direction to make it available for everyone to enjoy."

Like many other hospitality businesses, Jo Bro's Burgers has also faced difficulties due to the impacts of Covid-19, particularly in finding skilled labour and keeping up with increasing food prices.

Jenkins said that it is tricky for "fast food" restaurants to increase the price of their menu items because people will only pay so much for a cheeseburger, no matter how good it is.

"While trips to Pak N Save are necessary, getting take-out isn't, even as a treat. If the money isn't there to spend, our restaurant sales may feel the brunt of it."

The pair hope that they can continue opening more stores across the country, including a drive-through in the future.  Plans are also underway to convert their menus to only using 100% organic beef in the new year.

Barlow's advice for those wanting to get into hospitality is using work to learn and not just a way to earn.

"Work in the best places that you can and be prepared to work hard! It's not an easy industry, but it is the best and full of amazing people."

Jenkins advises beginners to be prepared to sacrifice time and energy in order to learn.

"While a lot of your friends graduate through other industries with less responsibility, pressure and with quicker pay increases, you have to keep pushing to the end goal to reap the rewards. It's taken us over three years to get to a point where we can properly pay ourselves because we invested every cent, as well as time and energy, into growing the business."

But for Jenkins, hospitality's people, culture and food are worth it.