Can a fast food chain appeal to health-conscious downtown workers on their lunch break? It’s the make-or-break question for Downtown Commons’ newest restaurant.
Burger Lounge opened Thursday at 545 K St. on the Sacramento shopping center’s second level. While it’ll stay open late to accommodate people leaving Golden 1 Center after a night out, the restaurant is banking on working professionals in need of a quick salad or burger, vice president of development Adam Rinella said.
“The hardest time to get something that is healthy for you is when you’re crunched for time or need something quick (and) need something under 10 bucks,” Rinella said. “That’s something we’re trying to provide versus a traditional QSR (quick service restaurant) such as McDonald’s.”
Burger Lounge’s menu reads somewhat like Shake Shack with a California twist. Grass-fed hamburgers and panko-crusted onion rings are listed alongside patties made from quinoa, free-range turkey and Alaskan cod. Organic cheese on the burgers, most of which run about $8, comes from Rumiano Cheese Co. near the Oregon border.
Other items include a pair of salads (Caesar and fresh veggie) and a newly-added paleo burger sandwiched between bacon, zucchini, tomato, avocado, sprouts and a lettuce bed. Traditional fast food items such milkshakes and double-pattied burgers (“The Husky,” which comes with house Thousand Island dressing) round out the rest of the menu.
“It’s a tight menu, it’s not huge,” Rinella said. “But within that, we can usually appease everybody. Whether it’s a dietary restriction or a lifestyle choice, like they’re vegetarian or vegan, we can check all those boxes at a pretty high level.”
Macro-craft beers from companies such as Ballast Point Brewing Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and 21st Amendment Brewery are offered on draft and in cans, plus one from Device Brewing Co. beverage. Batch Craft Soda made with cane sugar comes in flavors such as ginger beer and Shirley Temple.
Burger Lounge’s desire to be seen as an eco-friendly, modern fast food option is clear in its interior design as well. Tables made from recycled plastic bottles press up against a reclaimed brick wall. Customers sit on Brazilian ipe wood benches or low orange stools and eat food off melamine plates delivered by servers, a rarity in an industry largely reliant on counter service.
Eleven years after its founding in San Diego, Burger Lounge now boasts 24 locations, most of which are in Southern California. A 1,500-square foot sister restaurant is expected to open later this year in Fountains at Roseville.
Burger Lounge’s 1,850-square foot building neighbors Panda Express on DoCo’s second level near the Cinemark movie theater. Fast-casual restaurants like Jimboy’s Tacos and Pizza Press are expected to open in the surrounding area, while the plaza’s east end is home to ritzier businesses such as Estelle Bakery & Patisserie and Fizz champagne bar.
Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with extended closing times for Kings games and Golden 1 Center concerts.