Big Boy to debut @burger restaurant concept on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor

June 13, 2010

A new burger joint offering gourmet burgers at a fast food pace will be the newest addition to the McKinley Towne Centre building at 505 E. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

@burger, owned by Big Boy Restaurants, will be the first of what Big Boy CEO Keith Sirois said could eventually become a national chain. The restaurant plans to open in mid-to-late July.

A second location, he said, could open as early as next year, possibly in Ann Arbor. He said Ann Arbor is a great location to start a business.

It has a fabulous demographic mix, he said. You have folks from all over the country, from all over the state and all over the world. Its just a terrific place to test the concept.

That concept is a modern yet comfortable atmosphere for people who appreciate good food, he said.

Unlike Big Boy, which Sirois described as more of a family restaurant, @burger will not offer sit-down service. Instead, patrons will order at the counter and have the food brought to them in the restaurants dining room, which Sirois described as contemporary and comfortable. He said the dining room will include several TVs for sports programming as well as outdoor seating in the alley next door.

Its kind of a quick, casual concept, he said.

The menu, Sirois said, will offer a limited selection of burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads. Burgers will be available in 7 ounce and 4 ounce sizes, with meat provided by Detroit-based meat packer Wolverine Packing Co.

Its a little larger burger with fresh baked buns made in the restaurant, Sirois said. Its a proprietary blend of meat.

Though the restaurant owns the recipes of more than 150 burger possibilities, Sirois said @burgers menu will feature a steady selection of five to six burgers plus the option to build your own burger. He said the restaurant will freshen the menu now and then with rotating choices.

When it comes to vegetarian options, Sirois said @burger will offer several salads and is looking into offering vegetarians sandwiches as well.

Particularly in Ann Arbor, we think thats something folks would like to see, he said. We want to make sure its high quality.

Price-wise, Sirois said a 7 ounce burger, chips and soft drink will run under $10, but said fixed prices have not yet been set.

@burger is also in the process of trying to obtain a liquor license to offer beer and wine, which Sirois said will complement the food.

We want to offer some microbrews and local favorites, he said. We do know that folks love to have a glass of beer with their burger.

The 3,185 square foot space will be the buildings final tenant, which also includes Tomukun Noodle Bar, lab and FedEx/Kinkos.

I think its a nice mix of tenants in there that help each other out, McKinley's regional leasing director Dan Pasick said. Theres both a national and local presence.

Pasick said @burger won the lease after competing against other mostly food retailers, including SmashBurger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries - now moving to State Street - and other national chains.

He said Big Boy has solid credentials as a restaurant and McKinley liked the idea.

We like that its going to be their first concept, he said. I think they had a unique product that would do good there.

Erica Hobbs is a reporter for Reach her at 734 623-2537 or via e-mail at

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