Canadian fast-casual burger chain South St. Burger Co. opens its 29th location this week, but one of its stores is not like the others. No. 28, which opened last month on King Street in Toronto, is branded South St. Burger Bar. More like a pub than a typical fast-casual burger restaurant, the location has beer on tap at a bar that’s separated from the food counter. BurgerBusiness.com spoke with South St. Burger Co. President Jay Gould (r.) about the prototype’s genesis and future.
Was the decision to do the Burger Bar based on its location or were there changes you wanted to test?
To be honest it was a bit of both. We did find what we thought was a perfect location in an area that amazingly enough doesn’t have a lot of either watering holes or burger joints. It’s rare that you find those pockets in any major city these days.
This is a busy area on the east side of Toronto’s downtown core [260 King Street] that has been developing with lot of condominiums, a lot of office and not much food, which as I say is rare. There are very few places to drink. This particular location happens to be in a heritage building. The layout was such that it allowed us to place the food counter in a different section than the bar itself, so it was ideal.
We do have seven or eight of our restaurants that are licensed [to sell alcohol]. It’s mostly self-serve. We don’t sell a lot of beer or wine but if dad comes and brings the kids he can have a beer. The location we’ll open this week is licensed.
It’s too early to tell if we should be rolling [the Burger Bar concept] out Canada-wide. It’s only been open for about five weeks. It’s been off to a tremendous start but we want to be sure it’s on the right track before we put our stamp on it.
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