Florida Keys Business
Sunday, October 13, 2013
All natural, all good
BurgerFi boasts all-natural beef and earth-friendly attitude

Despite the enthusiasm and excitement it has stirred among Key West locals, "that new burger place on Duval" actually has a name.

It's BurgerFi - as in Semper Fi and wi-fi - although the name has nothing to do with the U.S. Marines or wireless Internet access.

"It's about the 'burgerfication' of the nation," manager Rob Litman explained last week to a happy table of locals who put down their burgers just long enough to ask the question. "We want to change the way people look at burgers."

And if the local buzz is any indication, they're already succeeding in Key West.

BurgerFi opened Sept. 18 at 221 Duval St., a converted historic Conch house that formerly housed a longtime seafood buffet.

The Duval Street BurgerFi is the 29th location for the Palm Beach-based company that prides itself on its commitment to all-natural Angus beef from grass-fed cattle that is free of hormones, antibiotics and additives.

"All-natural is huge with us," Litman said, pointing to a giant sign in the restaurant's outdoor courtyard that boasts its all-natural commitment. "Nothing comes here frozen. The beef is brought in fresh every day; the fries are hand cut to order and the onion rings are hand cut and beer-battered to order."

The company categorizes itself as a "fast-casual restaurant," where diners order their meal at a counter, find a table and then collect their meal when the pager they were issued blinks to alert them.

The menu features a variety of all-natural Angus burgers, Kobe beef hot dogs, quinoa veggie burgers, hand-cut fries, onion rings and frozen custard desserts at prices between $5 and $10.

"People are loving it," said Beth Rooney, marketing director for the Key West BurgerFi. "Once people try it, they've been coming back two, three times a week."

And it's easy to feel good about eating there, Rooney said.

"Although they're a chain, with big plans to expand all over the country and the world, they really are committed to this being a 'local' restaurant," she said. "The owners understand what a tight-knit community this is and they want to be entrenched in that. We're here for good and we want to help. Locals get 20 percent off everything - food and alcohol."

The Duval Street location is the first BurgerFi to offer a full liquor bar, which will be put to good use during the upcoming Fantasy Fest celebration, Rooney said.

"The Thursday night of Fantasy Fest, we're having a free party with a DJ, giveaways and drink specials"

The company also plans to host fundraisers for local nonprofits, sponsor athletic teams and give back to the community, Rooney said.

It's already giving back its cans, bottles and cardboard. Although city law does not require businesses to recycle, BurgerFi has strict recycling programs in place for all its oil, bottles, cans and cardboard.

"Chairs are made from recycled Coke bottles. Tables are made from compressed, recycled wood and large fans use 66 percent less electricity," states a company press release. "The company prides itself on maintaining a low carbon footprint and has strict recycling programs in place for all its oil, cardboard, bottles and cans at each restaurant location."

"I'm really proud to work for a company like this, and it's been great to see people really enjoying and embracing it," Rooney said.

BurgerFi is open 11 to 11 Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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