A Burger Joint?
Well, it’s really much more than that
The idea of Burger Up was born in November of 2008. I remember the day, the phone conversation. I was talking with a developer friend about what concept would do well in this corner space. (@12th and Paris) We discussed a quality burger place – a community-driven restaurant – a place people of all ages would feel welcome – an opportunity to take the kids out to dinner too – A place appropriate for a business lunch, a first date, an anniversary. Aaron, my developer friend thought that all sounded great and responded with “who is going to open it?” Within a few seconds, I replied “I will”. That week a lease was signed and close to 18 months later the doors were open.
First on the agenda was to source the best beef. About that time my son, Landon, introduced me to his kindergarten Naturalist teacher, Cynthia Lee, who happened to be one of Wallace Lee's daughters. Mr. Lee owns Triple L Ranch in Williamson County. I sampled the beef (a lot of it), took a long tour of the farm and was getting sold on using them as our beef source. Then “Food, Inc” came out. After seeing that film, my mind was set on Triple L Ranch. The Lee family demonstrates not only humane treatment of their animals, but true love and respect for them.
Next, with “Food, Inc” fresh on my mind and heavy on my heart, the decision was made to base the concept of Burger Up on the notion of thoughtful consuming. In other words, I would take great care sourcing as many products as possible on Burger Up’s menu from local farms that treated their animals well, used sustainable farm practices and would allow me to visit unannounced. It not only feels better knowing where your food comes from – it tastes better too.
An ever-expanding array of Tennessee and surrounding area farms are represented on our menu. Seasonally that number may fluctuate a bit. You have no idea how proud I am to encourage thoughtful consuming – it seeps in the minds and hearts of our kitchen staff and is lovingly translated to you. You could visit local Farmer's Markets and recreate a vast majority of our menu.
Fortunately, Nick Dryden was the architect on the entire development so naturally I had to use his aesthetic wisdom to help Burger Up “feel good”. Each time I had an idea he approved, I thought myself very cool. Then during the summer of 2009, my mother reminded me my grandfather had saved a variety of rough cut wood planks for me. Buck, my grandfather, was a naturalist before it was hip. He wept when trees had to be cut but somehow knew those trees would be used again. You see those trees in Burger Up. Co-founder, Mike Pontes, with the design help of Nick, built all the tables and stools inside Burger Up - a true labor of love. Additional wood was sourced at Woodstock Vintage Lumber right here in Nashville. And yes, that is where the name of the burger comes from and it happens to be the best seller so far.
A few obstacles occurred from that vivid November 2008 conversation until our open on May 1, 2010, but we pulled it off. Then, The Flood. Although we weren’t affected by floodwater, we were affected by lack of water. After several days of faucet water barely at a trickle, we had our own water brought in, found some disposable tableware and re-opened. The community responded with open arms.
The days from then until now have been filled with wonderful moments, media and farm support, useful suggestions, a slew of rollercoaster-like events, new faces, old friends as well as a staff who “drinks the punch” daily. That punch, as I call it, is a notion that thoughtful consuming is a vehicle of love that knows no boundaries and can have a positive impact on the way the world thinks about food. We continue to forge new relationships with farmers supporting the integrity of our mission. We’ve witnessed marriage proposals, birthdays, anniversaries and first dates. Big Deals have gone down and new ideas were born. As Spring 2012 is underway, we celebrate the opening of Burger Up #2 in Cool Springs, Tennessee and look forward to patio days and fresh tomatoes.