A Big Burger Loss

Another good downtown restaurant suddenly closes: Can only the Chipotles thrive?

A good downtown restaurant suddenly closes: Can only Chipotle survive?

burger guys
The Burger Guys have closed their downtown location after less than a year in business. Photo by Sarah Rufca
The Burger Guys, downtown, first burger, cheeseburger, October 2012
Want an akaushi burger with The Burger Guys signature toppings? Better head to Westchase. Photo by Zach Barnes/The Burger Guys/Facebook
burger guys
The Burger Guys, downtown, first burger, cheeseburger, October 2012

The downtown location of The Burger Guys has served its last burger. Although it only opened last  year, owner Jake Mazzu and chef Brandon Fisch reached the difficult decision to close after they saw their business dwindle. The restaurant's last day in operation was Friday.

The original, Westchase location remains open. 

Mazzu is sanguine about the situation. "Rolled the dice and lost. That's the truth," he tells CultureMap.

 "You can't cater 50 burgers. Not these burgers." 

Why does a restaurant with good food close? There are any number of contributing factors. 

While a location that's in the middle of a construction zone didn't help, Mazzu attributes it to two primary reasons. First, he says, "What shot us was when you look at (the menu). Burgers for $10. Nothing was going to be forgiven." Add fries and a drink, and $15 is a lot of money for the typical downtown office worker to spend on lunch.

Second, he notes that the location at 706 Main Street has housed "four restaurants in seven years." Asked if he believes in cursed locations, Mazzu says "completely, now. Never would have before." Both Fisch and Mazzu think that area diners didn't think the business would last, so they were unwilling to commit to it.

Fisch also notes that they lost out on the ability to deliver food to people in their offices. "You can't cater 50 burgers. Not these burgers," he notes. 

What sort of concept does Mazzu thinks works downtown?

"If I had to do anything, you know what I’d want to be," he asks. "Chipotle . . . It’s six items. It’s right there in front of you, and it’s as fast as you can walk through the line . . .They have a business model that makes 100 percent sense."

About the original location, Mazzu says "Westchase has always been successful. Has been since the day we’ve opened. We’ve been grateful for that."

One thing that won't change is the restaurant's commitment to using only 100-percent Akaushi beef for its patties. "We love the beef," Fisch states. 

Fisch ends with a concluding thought about people who claim to love a restaurant but never patronize it.

"I also believe that some of this is that when a place opens that’s small, we can’t forget about them after three months," he says. "If we still tell our friends about them, I hope that we’re going there. I hope that we’re not just saying it and fluffing it up and never showing our face.

"You can’t support somebody for three months and say I’m done."