One of the most often used “buzz” terms in the restaurant world right now is “fast casual”— an eatery where the food comes out quick but is high in quality and served up in a space that, while relaxed, treats every customer as a valued guest.
Burger Lounge, the latest new business to open up in the refreshed Flower Hill Promenade, sits comfortably in that fast casual niche. With its growing chain of restaurants, the Lounge offers the “original grass-fed burger” — healthy and authentic tastes, sustainable and green business practices and “superlative” guest services.
“Our goal is that every guest leave happier than when they arrived,” said Robert Lane, marketing director.
The first Burger Lounge opened in La Jolla in 2007, founded by J. Dean Loring and Mike Gilligan. The son and grandson of butchers, Loring started his first restaurant company at age 17 with a remodeled cable car/food truck in San Francisco. He ran a burger restaurant in Humboldt County before coming south and opening Cody’s in La Jolla in 1998 – but he always wanted to get back into the burger business. With his neighbor Gilligan, a banker, he opened the Burger Lounge in La Jolla, the first of what would be seven San Diego-area eateries. In addition to Del Mar, there are locations in Hillcrest, Kensington, Little Italy, Coronado and the Gaslamp.
There are now 10 Burger Lounges open and one under construction in Brentwood, as the restaurant broke into the crowded Los Angeles market a year and a half ago. Burger Lounge restaurants can be found in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Hollywood.
“North County San Diego is a natural fit for the progression of our company. We’re very selective about the locations we pick, it has to be a good mix of residential, commercial and tourism,” said Lane. “With the recent remodel of Flower Hill and the commitment the management has made to upgrade, we felt like this was a good place for us to be.”
The restaurant has an outdoor patio with orange umbrella-covered tables and inside the look is sleek and modern with orange vinyl booths, dark wood benches and white tabletops. Customers order at a walk-up counter but Burger Lounge is known for its full service after the order, with staff circulating to offer “superlative” service.
One of the restaurant’s mottos when it comes to the menu is “no junk all food”— the burgers are handcrafted with 100 percent fresh, single source American grass-fed beef.
“The grass-fed beef movement has become more prevalent as consumers are paying more attention to the food they put in their body, especially in the fast casual space,” Lane said.
The great thing about having relationships with the partners the Burger Lounge owners source their ingredients from is that they’re able to develop the types of products they would like to have. They worked with their cheese company Rumiano Cheese (the oldest family-owned cheese company in the state) to develop a line of grass-fed organic cheeses.