Make us your home page
Instagram

Field of better-burger chains keeps expanding

When it comes to burgers, we seem to have a bottomless appetite.

After an influx of better burger joints cramped the market, even more are headed to the Tampa Bay area. Each promises the ultimate experience between two buns topped with good atmosphere and prices that hit the sweet spot between traditional restaurants and fast-food competitors.

BurgerFi, a 2-year-old company with several locations in South Florida, plans to open five or six local restaurants, including one proposed at 3702 W Kennedy Blvd., just east of Dale Mabry Highway. It has sold all of its franchise opportunities in Florida, except for parts of the Panhandle and St. Augustine, and has several leases under negotiation.

BurgerFi claims to pick up where other better-burger concepts leave off. Its Angus beef is grass fed from locally sourced farms, never injected with hormones or artificial ingredients, and delivered fresh to restaurants, not frozen. Its restaurants are environmentally friendly with furniture made from recycled materials and ceiling fans that use less electricity. Live music, craft beer and cupcakes add some hipness and fun.

Although I've never been to one, I'm envisioning an Evos meets Pizza Fusion.

The name stems from the company's goal to "burger-fy the nation" and is literally branded onto the buns, an interesting touch. Can it survive in an already crowded burger market? Absolutely, said Michael Brown, the company's real estate project manager.

"Burger is part of America's DNA," he said. "All we have to do is do it right and build the right team."

Some of BurgerFi's competitors, he notes, are past their prime or missing the mark.

Others are just firing up.

Last week, Tampa-based Square 1 Burgers and Bar announced the spring opening of its first location in Pinellas County, at 3942 Tyrone Blvd. in St. Petersburg. The restaurant is the sixth overall for the chain, which over the weekend celebrated the five-year anniversary of its first restaurant along Henderson Boulevard in Tampa. Others have followed in Brandon, Sarasota and Fort Myers. Like BurgerFi, it serves all-natural Angus burgers but gets kudos for its more exotic buffalo, duck and venison versions, too.

Also close to home, Burger 21, a better-burger concept founded by the owners of the Melting Pot Restaurant, has signed deals to open franchises in Sarasota and Albany, N.Y., the first in that state. The Tampa-based chain has five locations in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets and 12 in development in seven states, and is scouting a potential location in South Tampa. It offers 21 kinds of burgers — hence the name — plus salads, chicken tenders and an ice cream bar with shakes, floats and sundaes.

These better-burger places compete with the likes of Five Guys, Beef 'O' Brady's and other neighborhood restaurants with a decent burger on the menu. Prices range from $10 to $15 for a meal — significantly more than fast-food chains, but you get more, too.

Research backs the boom. The latest U.S. Fast Food Market Outlook shows burger consumption is growing about 4 percent a year. Burgers aren't the healthiest option, but they're affordable, widely available and can be dressed up in tasty ways. Not surprisingly, among pizza, sandwiches, Mexican and other fast-food segments, burgers reign king.

In related burger news, Checkers is celebrating the reopening of a shuttered location in Largo, at 3150 East Bay Drive, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. To draw crowds, the fast-food drive-in restaurant is offering free combo meals for a year — 52 in all — to the first 100 guests.

The location, which closed in 2010 after the franchisee fell on tough times, is part of Tampa-based Checkers' push to expand after years of sluggish sales. Checkers founder Herb Brown and current CEO Rick Silva will be on hand to cut the ribbon.

I can't imagine eating a year's worth of Big Bufords, but I'm sure plenty of people can. If you're one of them, get there early because I'm told fans have camped out the night before to be among the first in line.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

Field of better-burger chains keeps expanding 03/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 9:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]