Michael Harr, executive chef at Food Wine & Co., said he realized pretty quickly that people love his burgers.
He said the Bethesda restaurant sells 800 to 1,000 prime angus truffle burgers every month.
So when he and co-owner Francis Namin were brainstorming a concept for a new restaurant, burgers came up and they went with it.
The idea will become a reality this week, when Namin and Harr open City Burger at 7015 Wisconsin Avenue, a restaurant that will focus on beef burgers. Originally the owners planned to open Wednesday, May 14, but that date has been pushed back and the plan is now to open Friday, according to Harr.
The concept is simple: 4-ounce, all-natural, antibiotic-free hamburger patties for about $4. They’ll have specialties—like a burger with pineapple, ham, spicy pickle and chile mayo—but the main focus is on sourcing quality meat from Midwestern farms and keeping it simple, according to Harr.
“We want to offer a burger that you can feel good about,” he said.
There’s no chicken sandwich on the menu, or veggie burger. The restaurant, which has been appointed with hardwood accents and white tile can seat about 15.
There will be menu items besides burgers, including fries, hot dogs and half-smokes from a Baltimore butcher, as well as milkshakes and ice cream. Harr says the restaurant will make its own custard base, which then goes into a machine that churns it out as ice cream. The ice cream is used in the shakes.
Given the simplicity of the restaurant, it seems like an idea that can be expanded regionally, or possibly franchised. Harr admits the restaurant can be replicated easily, but said it wasn’t designed to be franchised.
As for the competition in the area, including Smashburger and BGR The Burger Joint in Bethesda, Harr says City Burger will be different.
“We’re in a completely different price point,” Harr said. “Their burgers are like gigantic, ours are a little smaller.”
Namin and Harr’s restaurant company includes Fish Taco, Don Pollo, Food Wine & Co., and the Beer Wine & Co. liquor store.