Cathie Anderson

Krush Burger closes restaurant in Sacramento’s River District

Krush Burger enjoyed success with its first brick-and-mortar store in the California Lottery building for several years, but said owner Davin Vculek, but traffic eventually dropped in the evening hours.
Krush Burger enjoyed success with its first brick-and-mortar store in the California Lottery building for several years, but said owner Davin Vculek, but traffic eventually dropped in the evening hours.

Krush Burger co-founder Davin Vculek closed the chain’s original location in Sacramento’s River District last week so that he could focus time and energy on training franchisees of the Rocklin-based chain of premium burger restaurants.

The chain’s franchisee in the United Arab Emirates is planning big growth, with a new restaurant set to open in Abu Dhabi in a few weeks, Vculek said. A local franchisee continues to operate Krush Burger locations in Roseville and Davis. Vculek owns and operates the corporate training store in Rocklin, where franchisees and their key employees come to learn the ropes from a seasoned team.

“We have a lot of expansion going on in the Middle East,” Vculek said. “This store got tougher and tougher for us. We have so many things going on, and we’re still a very small company. The more moving pieces we can consolidate down, the more we can focus on our franchisees. They’re our top priority.”

Krush Burger got its start in the brick-and-mortar world in 2012 when it leased space at the California Lottery headquarters building at 700 N. 10th St. Business boomed at first as diners made their way to the River District to experience Krush Burger’s new digs, but eventually the dinner traffic tapered off.

“It’s difficult to make a restaurant make sense in that market because there’s not a lot of nighttime traffic,” Vculek said, “and there’s not a lot of residential traffic.”

Vculek, however, will always remember the Lottery as the organization that kick-started his move into the brick-and-mortar business, describing it as a great incubator for Krush Burger. The burger chain was founded by Vculek and Joe Blanton in 2010, just as the food truck craze was taking off in Sacramento. The two men were culinary school graduates: Vculek from Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Ore., and Blanton from New York’s French Culinary Institute, now known as the International Culinary Center.

They thought burgers could be improved – and settled on the idea of selling mini-burgers to differentiate their premium burgers from others.

“It was a concept that I came up with in culinary school, as a project,” Vculek said. “My partner and I further developed the idea, and we gave it a shot. We felt a food truck would be the best place to do it with a minimal investment.”

About two years ago, Blanton decided to pursue a career in real estate, and Vculek became the sole owner of Krush Burger. He closed the Krush Burger food truck last year after the chain ramped up growth in the Middle East, where new restaurants are planned in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Already, the UAE has Krush Burgers in Dubai and Al Ain.

Vculek said that he will return his focus to the local market at the end of the year. He has scouted locations in Elk Grove for some time now, and he eventually wants to open a site in Folsom and return to Sacramento. Employees from Krush Burger’s River District location were offered the opportunity to apply for positions with the local franchisee, Vculek said.

Lottery officials have put out a request for proposals from restaurateurs interested in the space and hope to have a new vendor in place by midsummer.

The new streets of downtown Sacramento's shuttered railyard were officially opened to traffic on Aug. 19, 2016, as developers prepared the property for building.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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