Since the doors to Honest Burgers opened five years ago, co-founder Phil Eeles has seen his role change completely. The big demands used to be physical – working long hours and hand-cutting chips. Now, his challenges are to do with people. “We’ve grown to 350 staff and have 16 restaurants all over London, so as operations director, I spend my time dashing around from one to another, making sure everything is running according to plan.” With so much time spent on the go, staying connected and comfortable is important for the entrepreneur – so we’ve put him in the Kia Optima Sportswagon in a bid to make his busy working life easier.
“My day starts early. I have a 16-month-old son, so I get up with him at around 5.30am and we have our porridge together,” he explains. “Next, I’m off either to head office or straight to one of the restaurants. I’m looking forward to taking the Kia Optima Sportswagon for the day, starting at Honest Burgers in Peckham, south London, which is where I live.
“I check in with the manager and then make a couple of calls from the parked car. The built-in Bluetooth means my phone’s contacts appear on the large touchscreen, so I can make calls hands-free and tap away on the laptop at the same time.”
Phil usually makes a few stops in one day, and next on his list is a trip to the Soho restaurant. He’s got lots of different stock to move but there’s no need for a delivery van. “I fill the boot with various bits and set off to Meard Street,” he explains. “Putting a keg in a boot would usually be a bit challenging, as it rolls around, but with this flexible aluminium rail system there is the facility to hold it in position and save the Karma Cola cans and burger buns from getting crushed.”
When Phil and his co-founder Tom opened their first restaurant in Brixton Village, back in 2011, they were really just hoping to break even. “Our focus was on great-quality meat and handmade chips,” says Eeles. “From the moment we opened the door there were queues out of it. People went nuts for our food and we haven’t radically changed our initial concept or menu since.”
Now, no two days are the same, so the flexibility of the Optima makes it the perfect companion for Eeles. “I love the fact that I take a different route to work every day. Realistically, thanks to our area managers, I could do my job from a computer in the office, but my co-founder Tom and I have been hands-on since the start and it would feel so strange to sit in head office as if it were an ivory tower.”
As everyone knows, parking in London can be a nightmare, but the Kia Optima Sportswagon makes it as easy as possible. “When I arrive in Soho, parking in the narrow side street is a dream, thanks to the 360-degree monitor, which gives me a bird’s-eye view of the Optima outside the restaurant,” he says. For the really difficult spots, the Smart Park Assist will even steer the car into a space.
Once it is in position, Eeles is able to unload the stock at the busy restaurant and grab some lunch. “The boot of the Optima automatically opens and closes at the touch of a button, and not having to get my hands dirty before eating my burger is a win in my book.”
After a quick chat with the Soho manager, he gets back into the car to send a few more emails. “By simply placing my phone in the console, my phone’s battery is re-charged wirelessly. The heated and ventilated leather seats are a nice touch – and who wouldn’t want a heated steering wheel?”
At the end of this working day, a Friday, it’s time to change to weekend mode and the Optima Sportswagon makes the switch seamless. “It’s brilliant to have a car that feels small enough to run around the city but big enough to get away for the weekend,” he says. Popping his luggage in the boot, he sets the sat nav to his next destination, getting the quickest route thanks to live traffic updates and even a four-day weather outlook. “I’m meeting my partner and son in Brighton, which is also where my co-founder Tom and I met and had the idea for Honest Burgers. A fitting end to my day.”
The Optima Sportswagon range is available now from £22,295