At the year’s halfway point, it’s clear the burger marketplace is changing. Fewer new independent burger concepts are blossoming but what were fresh indies a few years back are rapidly morphing into regional chains.
For example, Bru Burger in Indianapolis was a member of BurgerBusiness’s Class of 2012. Since then it has opened in Lexington, Ky., will open soon Carmel, Ind., and reportedly plans to open in Cincinnati. Burger Bach was an original in 2012, a New-Zealand-inspired burger concept off the beaten path in Richmond, Va. Now it has locations in Glen Allen, Va., and Durham, N.C. Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville, Va., also in the Class of ’12, is now outside Washington, D.C., in Clarendon, Va., and likely isn’t finished growing. None of these brands is.
The energy driving the burger business is coming from concepts such as these as well as young-and-growing chains such as Burger 21, BurgerFi, Bareburger, The Burger’s Priest, Byron, Shake Shack, Umami and many others. McDonald’s won’t grow this year; Burger King’s U.S. count has declined for several years.
That doesn’t mean the burger category’s cupboard of new concepts is bare. Here are 18 concepts that opened their doors in the first half of the year. They display the diversity of the category, ranging from small quick-service burger joints to pub-style burger bars.
Famous initially for being owned by Kim Kardashian pal Jonathan Cheban, Burger Bandit wants to be known more for burgers. These include a “bigger than a slider but smaller than a burger” Burger Bandit for $2.29. A full-size Classic cheeseburger is $5.29. There’s a “Boardwalk-Style” hot dog, beer and wine.
Burgers are an international language and Burger Circus is fluent. The American Acrobat burger is a 5-oz. beef patty with Wisconsin Cheddar, lettuce, tomato and house sauce. Order The Whole Show and that beef patty is topped with Wisconsin Cheddar, pickled beetroot, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo and a fried egg.
Department of Meat & Social Affairs
The basic burger is two quarter-pound (from Bedfordshire) beef patties with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. There’s a Pulled Pork Burger, Pork Chorizo Sliders and, for nonmeat eaters a Halloumi & Mushroom Burger. Social affairs include lots of local music.
Cereal City Burgers
Battle Creek, Mich.
Located in a strip mall in Kellogg’s hometown, Cereal City Burger isn’t fancy but it has all you need. There are single, double and triple cheeseburgers plus a Bacon Burger and an Olive Burger.
Burgers are third-pound patties of a proprietary Black Angus chuck blend. The $7.20 signature Clark Burger gets Tillamook Sharp Chddar, smoked bacon, sliced onion, lettuce pickle and house sauce. Clark claims to have Baltimore’s best poutine, and who’s to argue?
“Better” burgers with all-natural black Angus beef, cage-free chicken, wild caught ahi and organic portobello mushrooms with local craft beers and house-made frozen custard. The $9.50 House Craft with Cheese has Bibb lettuce, tomato, red onion, Craft sauce and choice of Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Swiss.
Craft Burger Cromer
Perched on England’s northeast coast north of Norwich, Craft Burger has more than a dozen interesting burger builds. The £8 Hogfather tops a beef patty with BBQ pulled pork, streaky crisp bacon, smoked cheese, sour cream, red-onion marmalade and baby Gem lettuce.
“A whole new way to do burgers. We dig out the bun and fill it with any of the toppings you choose (all for one price).” That’s $7 for a burger, $10 for a burger, fries and soft drink; $13 if you choose beer or wine.
Elijah P’s Burger & Brews
The burgers are creative; the brews flow from 60 taps. As it sounds, the BaconJamBrie Burger has bacon jam topped with Brie cheese, spinach and IPA mayo. More than 100 different whiskeys are on hand as well.
It may be in Manchester, but Filthy Cow has the heart of an all-American burger joint. The £6 Filthy Classic is British beef with house Filthy Sauce, pickled gherkin, tomato and lettuce. A recent special is the Texas Honker with striped pork rib, secret BBQ sauce, gilled red onion and chorizo.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
In a great site by Niagara Falls State Park; grab a burger and see the Falls. Single and double burgers, with or without cheese or bacon. Toppings are free.
Every burger is a different infraction. The £5 basic is “Slander”; bacon & cheese burger is “blackmail”; a £6 mushroom and chili cheese burger is “Bigamy.”
The latest (June 15) concept from Chef Kent Rathbun (Abacus, Jasper’s) is all about burgers and barbecue. Sometimes they come together as with the Smoked Burnt Ends Chili Burger with roasted poblano, smoked Cheddar and Serrano sour cream.
A quick-service burger offshoot of popular Katy Ice House. Options include an $8.95 Terlingua Pride Burger topped with venison chili and a Patty melt on Rye with Swiss and grilled onion. Grilled brats, hot dogs, tacos and a seared ahi sandwich also find their way onto the menu.
A longtime burger pop-u restaurant puts down bricks-and-mortar roots. The signature Kronnerburger for $12 is served rare with lettuce, onion, Cheddar, mayo and a pickle. Add $3 for bone marrow; $2 for pimento cheese; $3 for bacon.
Replacing a Häagen-Dazs in The Venetian hotel/casino‘s Grand Canal Shoppes food court, Primeburger caught on fast. It claims “Boutique Burgers, Crafted Fries, Spirits and Shakes” but doesn’t like to talk about of them. It all stays in Vegas apparently.
Burgers are never-frozen third-pounders and are $7.50 up (with fries) unless they’re quarter-pound ‘Lil Squeeze burgers, which start at $7. The menu also includes steak and chicken sandwiches, tacos and salads.
Steak, Cattle & Roll
The £7.45 New York Deli Burger is prime beef with pastrami, salami, melted Swiss and onions. The Black & White has black turtle beans, cannelloni beans and fried halloumi cheese. The menu also has “The United Steaks of America,” including a £19.95 12-oz. t-bone.