The difference between burgers and “brgz” goes beyond the inclusion of vowels or the SEO-friendly mutilation of the English language. A traditional hamburger is often reduced to ground meat, salt, and pepper. A “brg,” the main event at the new fast-casual Eat Brgz counter that held its grand opening yesterday across the street from Eastern Market, is a blend of meat, vegetables, other proteins, cheeses, and spices, all mixed up into one neatly packaged disc.
There’s nothing in between “brgz” and their buns, nothing on top of the patty. Whereas burgers come topped in ketchup, mustard, mayo, or some kind of special sauce, “brgz” come with a dipping sauce (tzatziki, queso, za’atar mustard apricot) on the side. Every bite contains every the flavor of every ingredient expected in a burger, but with a delivery that theoretically cuts down on the mess.
Customers pick a choice of three patties: dry-aged Roseda Farms beef, chicken, or Impossible meat substitute. There are squishy Lyon Bakery potato rolls delivered daily, but there’s a gluten-free upgrade to a house cauliflower bun made out vegetables, eggs, and cheese. For $9, people can make their own burger blends or opt for one of nine “signature brgz,” ranging from Basic (bacon, onion, pickles, American cheese) to a Greek — livened up by feta and kalamata olives — or a Samosa that blends in green peas and a “Bombay” seasoning.
“I always made my burger this way, and everyone loved it,” founder Brandon Gaynor explains. The 31-year-old believed in the method so much that he left his job at an investment firm that analyzed restaurant chains and opened his own brand a year later.
In Gaynor’s mind, Eat Brgz can do for burgers what Blaze and &pizza have done for pizza. In other words, he’s taking an American classic and trying to make it faster, more efficient, and ultra-customizable.
For the business to succeed, Gaynor knows, customers will have to get over their desire to eat multi-component burgers and embrace eating “brgz.”
“I think what stands out the most here is the fact that you can bring these different flavor dimensions to a hamburger, and it’s the same in every single bite,” Gaynor says. “You bite into that hamburger, you’re getting that same seasoning, all those ingredients blended all the way through. Nothing is sliding off your bun. You’re not losing anything. Every bite is the same.”
To go with its main meal, Eat Brgz sells Royal kennabec potato fries that are prized for their pale color. For $1 extra, people can add one of three spice blends: garlic Parmesan, Cajun, or Jamaican Jerk.
There’s a soda fountain with cane sugar-sweetened Maine Root products as well as beer and wine. Milkshakes are a big selling point because Gaynor and his team developed a proprietary formula that packs in 20 grams of protein and uses fiber and artificial sweeteners to cut the calories in half.
To keep blended patties in half, Gaynor’s team developed its own line of silicon rings. The “brgz” cook in 140 to 180 seconds on giant, George Foreman-style presses that griddle the meat from both sides. Gaynor says the grill was developed by McDonald’s, which let the patent expire. For now, burgers arrive without any pink in the middle and with a lean blend that attempt to be more of an everyday option than a greasy indulgence.
Gaynor’s partners in the business include Robert Kabakoff, a former corporate executive chef for Houston’s, and restaurant consultant Juan Martinez, who has clients like Nando’s Peri-Peri.
While Eat Brgz is developing an internal method for seemingly every part of the business, there are two things it won’t mess with. Chocolate milkshakes have Hershey’s chocolate syrup, and Heinz provides the ketchup for fries.
Eat Brgz (250 Seventh Street SE) is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and closes at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.