The question of whether there’s room for still more burger restaurants keeps being asked. And the answer continues to come in the form of second, third or tenth locations for popular burger concepts. Burger 21, BurgerFi, Elevation Burger, Habit Burger and many others continue to expand: We’ve spotlighted 50 growth concepts over the past four years.
Burger-menu restaurants continue to be created and once established continue to multiply. Listed here are 15 such growing brands that bear watching next year. Some, such as Wahlburgers, likely are familiar, but others, including Boon Burger Café, likely aren’t but soon may be. These concepts exemplify the diversity in style that keeps the burger category of the restaurant business innovative and robust.
Bachi Burger, Las Vegas
After opening a second Vegas location, Bachi has gone to Los Angeles for its third unit. Bachi—short for hibachi—puts an Asian spin on its food. The Shogun Burger is Wagyu beef and unagi with pan-seared foie gras, poached Asian pear, miso butter and Yamamomo peach. Chef’s Specials include Oxtail Chili Cheese Fries.
A vegan burger bar? How’s that going to work? No doubt it had its skeptics, but Michael Valiant’s animal-free, plant-based menu won converts. A second location opened in Winnipeg and now a third—in Barrie, Ontario—is open. Boon boasts 14 meat-free burgers made with one of four non-meat patties it makes. The grilled patty is made with cremini mushrooms, brown rice, onion, garlic, lemon juice, organic tofu and oats, seasoned with basil, oregano, salt and coarse black pepper.
Boston Burger Company, Boston
Bringing great burgers to the intelligentsia, Boston Burger Company’s third location will be in Cambridge, Mass. It’s famed for its house salsa, which is sold at retailers across Boston, but its half-pound Angus burgers also are revered (a little Boston humor).
BRGR goes where the burger lovers are. It just opened its third full-service location in Pittsburgh; it operates a popular concession at PNC Park; and it has a food truck taking burgers to the hungry. Signature build The BRGR is a half-pound of dry-aged prime beef with pickled red onion, arugula, creamy blue cheese and oven-roasted tomatoes.
The Burger’s Priest, Toronto
There are so many fast-growing Canadian chains—including The Works, Big Smoke and South St. Burger—that you might not notice that Burger’s Priest’s new location at Stone Road Mall is its seventh in the city. A self-described “Classic American Cheeseburger Joint,” it would fare well here if it decides to look south.
The full-service restaurant opened in 2012 in center-city Charlottesville. Now it’s heading north, across the Potomac from D.C., to Clarendon, Va., for a second location. Citizen will continue its pledge to source as many ingredients—including grass-fed beef—from Virginia farms as possible.
When the original Grind in Eagle, Idaho, failed, owner Rick Boyd retooled it and opened in Boise. This time it’s working so well that Boyd told BurgerBusiness.com he’s looking at possible expansion to Spokane or Seattle.
H&F Burger, Atlanta
The cheeseburger at Chef/owner Linton Hopkins’ Holeman & Finch is the stuff of legend. It used to be available only 10 p.m. and only 24 were made each night, although the limitations were dropped last month. But that cheeseburger was such a local icon that Hopkins opened a downsized H&F Burger concession at Turner Field. A second H&F now is planned for Ponce City Market. Could this become the next Shake Shack?
Larkburger may brand itself a “Colorado fast-casual chain” and have opened only within its home state, but Co-founder and CEO Adam Baker told BurgerBusiness.com in an interview that the chain soon will want to look beyond the Rockies. The West Coast seems the most likely landing site.
Loco’l, San Francisco
The first location won’t open until 2015, but when it’s the brainchild of chefs Roy Choi (of Los Angeles’ Kogi) and Daniel Patterson (Coi in San Francisco), you’d better believe it’s worth watching. Choi’s promising healthier burgers than any of the QSR chains offer. He’s making big plans—the first Loco’l will be in San Francisco; then it’s on to Los Angeles, Detroit and the world—and he’s talking tough. “Don’t tell me we don’t want great delicious cheap fast food,” Choi told Inside Scoop SF. “It’s only because we haven’t been given the choice to choose, and we destroy our youth and our neighborhoods with corporations that serve addictive poison that we convince ourselves otherwise.
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Los Angeles
The concept that invented “ketchup leather” (think Fruit Roll-Ups) has three locations open and is itching for more. In an interview, partner Ernesto Uchimura told BurgerBusiness.com that “it would be smart to expand to other cities in California.” The Pacific Northwest is under consideration, too.
Rev Burger, Chicago
Owners Bill and Wendy Spatz had barely opened the first Rev Burger in Carol Stream, Ill., before they were scouting sites for their “Healthier Revolution” food in Chicago. The downtown location is open now and more are expected, even in Chicago’s crowded burger marketplace. “We set this up to be a franchise from the start,” Bill Spatz told BurgerBusiness.com earlier this year.
The first two locations are in Miami but owner JEY Hospitality Group has put the third Rok:Brgr in The Village at Gulfstream in Hallendale Beach, Fla. The menu offers 14 burgers—including the Sweet Caroline with aged Cheddar, BBQ short rib, coleslaw, fried onion and bourbon BBQ sauce—and a build-your-own option. The full-service bar is hoppin’.
Union Burger, Mississauga, Ont.
With a dozen units in Canada, Union Burger quietly invaded in 2013, opening in Clearwater, Fla. Apparently it likes the weather there and its second U.S. location will be in Orlando. Yes, they brought the poutine down with them.
Wahlburgers, Hingham, Mass.
I overlooked this concept last year and in the interim it has gone crazy, opening in Toronto and announcing plans for not one but three locations in Las Vegas. Oh and it got its own A&E reality TV show, too. Anyone who dismissed this as a vanity concept for Mark Wahlburg and his brothers are finding just how serious about good burgers they are.