Scheduled for arrival: BurgerFi

burgerfi burger

Maybe the burgers are branded in case they wander off. / photo: BurgerFi FB

Upscale burger chains are (whatever the old thing was).

Announced Wednesday: The fast casual chain BurgerFi will be setting up in Latham this spring, with another location planned for Saratoga Springs.

The Capital Region locations are a joint venture between members of the Lia family (of auto group fame) and Angelo Mazzone (of his own local restaurant empire fame). Press release blurbage:

BurgerFi, short for "Burgerfication", is headquartered in North Palm Beach, FL, and currently has 58 locations throughout the country including company owned and franchised units.
BurgerFi has made its mark with never frozen, grass fed Angus beef that is free of growth hormones, chemicals and additives. Additionally, each BurgerFi store is built to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. Tables are made from recycled Coke bottles, chairs consist of compressed wood and large fans utilize 66-percent less electricity. The chain has strict recycling programs in place for all its oil, cardboard, bottles and cans at each restaurant location. ...

In addition to an assortment of burgers, BurgerFi serves Kobe beef hot dogs, fresh cut fries with an array of toppings (salt and vinegar, parmesan cheese and herbs, BurgerFi chili, hot Cajun spices), onion rings, homemade frozen custards, craft beer and wine.

The Latham location is set for 860 New Loudon Road, and the Saratoga Springs location at 460 Broadway. Apparently other locations are also in the works.

Over at the Biz Review, Mike DeMasi talked with Angelo Mazzone about the restaurants.

So, what's the word on BurgerFi?

Here's a clip of a BurgerFi chain review by USA Today's travel food guy, Larry Olmsted, last month (it's very much worth reading the whole thing if you're curious):

[M]ost of the food at BurgerFi is very good, and if they cleaned up their menu text to be forthcoming, I could more heartily recommend it. The burgers are very tasty, all doubles using thin but real formed patties, juicy, fresh and meaty like Shake Shack's version, with very good buns. They are available in a pricier brisket version which says it uses 28-day dry-aged grass-fed brisket, but while it is a bit denser and meatier, it didn't taste appreciably better than the very good standard cheeseburger. The basic double comes with double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, BurgerFi sauce and optional bacon, while the brisket adds Swiss, bleu cheese and pickles. The toppings are all good and fresh. There are a couple of notably creative options, like a quinoa patty veggie burger and an all-day breakfast burger with fried egg, hash browns and maple syrup, something you won't find at other fast food spots. In another interesting twist, all burgers are available in lettuce wrap instead of buns.
... The onion rings are very good, crisp and hearty, but the fries are even better - fortunately they offer a combo so you don't have to choose. Fries are hand-cut and reminiscent of a county fair, very real, well-browned, and with an assortment of sizes comes an assortment of crispiness - I loved the smaller pieces. These are standout fries and I'd gladly eat them any time, plain or with any of the toppings.

A Manhattan BurgerFi location got good marks from a NY Mag review, which highlighted the chain's vegetarian options.

And here's the Yelp page for a BurgerFi location in Poughkeepsie.

Why so many burgers?

Upscale burger chains are a thing right now around the country. And it's happening here, too. Already on the scene:

+ Five Guys
+ Smashburger
+ Burger 21
+ Juicy Burger

And there are a handful of other chains elsewhere fighting to carve out a spot. The most notable, of course, is Shake Shack -- which just had an IPO. Total, wild, no-information speculation: We suspect it's a good bet there will be a year-round Shake Shack location in the Capital Region within three years. (There's already the seasonal stand at the Saratoga Race Course.) IPO money + market expectations = big push to expand.

Among the two big things behind this trend:

1. Chipotle is huge example that people are willing to pay a bit more for better fast food.

2. Burgers are relatively easy to chain. And that means an ability to rack up revenue quickly. This isn't really news -- McDonald's demonstrated this fact decades ago. But, again, Shake Shack is the example. The company originally behind it -- Union Square Hospitality Group and restaurateur Danny Meyer -- is famous for its fine dining restaurants. Shake Shack was just an experiment in applying some of that culinary and restaurant know-how to a temporary burger pop up. And after it became an unexpectedly huge hit, the light went on that it's a heck of lot easier, and more profitable, to replicate a bunch of burger restaurants than it was to create a new restaurant like the Union Square Cafe. [NYT]

Comments

Five Guys' addition of shakes has totally won my heart.

I've never had one of these, but I'm excited to try them.

YEEESSS! I love the one in Ft. Lauderdale. It's actually good "fast food" burgers. So superior to the other chains you listed. Huge portions, tastes so much healthier and the veggie burger is awesome there too! (Also, five guys is the worst. Feel like I'm having a heart attack as soon as I bite in).

Saw the sign for Latham in the Delray Beach location last week. My son was beside himself with excitement. It is good. The beach location makes it better. If will do amazing in Saratoga..

Enough already with the burger, and anything else chains!
Five Guys burgers are expensive, well done, dried out , and tasteless.
The capital region has WAY TO MANY CHAINS!
Start supporting our local restaurants like Lombardos, Ralph's, T.J.'s, Saatti's, Gershons, J.C.'s.

Five Guys upscale? I don't think so.

Wow, they are going to be right next to Red Robin. Bold move.

Ace i didn't say Five Guys is upscale.
I said it is expensive for a burger.

Thanks for the tip!

Sounded good, but a few clicks around the block and I see the veggie burger includes cheese and eggs. So just fries for vegans. I like fries plenty, but I don't need to drive to get them. Lynn's Uptown handcut fries are just down the street and always satisfy.

@mg: Ace wasn't addressing your comment, but the contents of the post.

Hey- It's July 2015 and all I see is a small empty area with big windows and nobody doing anything inside. Hope it still happens, the other restaurants look fabulous for burgers.

Let's support Jumpin Jacks in scotia, Macs in Watervliet. Let's forget about the chains no matter how good they advertise look at nutritional value. 1400mg sodium in a burger. How about letting the buyer add the salt instead of the cook. We even have Panda a fast food Chinese joint. Let th local Chinese have the restaurants. They do a much better job. Let's not forget all the fabulous Diners in the Albany are.

Thanks for your time


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