Heads up, hamburger fans: A build-your-own burger restaurant with an organic focus is moving into Anchorage.
Burgerfi, a Florida-based franchise that brands itself on hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats, craft beer and wine selections, and decor that includes recycled furniture, is preparing to set up shop into The Mall at Sears in Midtown, next to the SteamDot coffee shop, said Jack Lewis, managing partner of the restaurant management group North to Alaska LLC.
A soft opening for Burgerfi -- short for "Burgerfication" -- is planned for November, with a full opening coming in fall 2015. By then, the restaurant will feature an outdoor patio opening up to the parking lot lining Benson Boulevard, Lewis said. Developers deliberately picked the high-traffic Midtown location to catch business commuters for the lunch and dinner rush.
Two other locations are slated to open in Anchorage by early 2016, one in East Anchorage and one in South Anchorage.
Lewis said he was drawn to Burgerfi's "all-natural" approach of using grass-fed Angus beef in its hamburgers. The franchise is currently only open in about 20 cities on the East Coast and in the southern United States but is in the process of opening dozens more.
"Being, you know, a lover of burgers, I was looking for a cutting-edge concept," said Lewis, who also operates the Sourdough Mining Company Restaurant, Peanut Farm Sports Grill, McGinley's Irish Pub and Firetap Alehouse and a promised string of Krispy Kreme doughnut shops.
In addition to allowing customers to customize toppings, the restaurant offers a veggie quinoa burger (the VegeFi) and an assortment of hot dogs, including a Wagyu Kobe beef dog, Lewis said.
For The Mall at Sears, it's the first sit-down restaurant outside of the food court, and the only place where customers can have a beer or a glass of wine, said Gail Bogle-Munson, leasing director for Carr Gottstein Properties, the mall's owner.
"We don't have that kind of facility at the mall," Bogle-Munson said. "We think it's really needed."
Burgerfi's future location was occupied by H&R Block during the tax season. But the space, part of a redesign of the mall's Benson entrance in 2012, was designed with a restaurant in mind, Bogle-Munson said. Customers can access the business even during the hours when the rest of the mall isn't open.
Bogle-Munson said a restaurant was also seen as complementary to SteamDot, the higher-end coffee stop credited for helping to stimulate a revitalization of the mall, a process that will take another step with the opening of Nordstrom Rack next fall.