The burger wars are coming. And, as America's expansion-minded burger chains strategically position themselves across the country, Las Vegas is starting to emerge as ground zero. Eater Vegas reported yesterday that Bobby Flay's Bobby Burger Palace is headed to the Strip this year, which is really just the latest in a string of burger chains that have all announced plans to move into the Vegas market. Soon, the cultishly beloved In-N-Out will find itself angling for a piece of the burger market again East Coast powerhouse Shake Shack for the first time ever. Mix in Umami Burger's stated Vegas intentions, a growing Five Guys presence and Bobby Flay's move, and things get even more interesting. Here's a look at the looming burger wars:
In 1992, In-N-Out opened its first location in Las Vegas, its first outside of California. It has now expanded to 11 Vegas locations, plus one in nearby Henderson. In-N-Out has become essential for Vegas burger aficionados, not too surprising as the chain has been known to drive people to tears with its fresh-never-frozen burgers and "secret" menu.
[Photo: MGM Resorts]
Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group is unleashing the burger titan that is Shake Shack upon the West Coast for the first time ever in 2014. Part of a remodel of the Strip's Monte Carlo and New York-New York resorts, Shake Shack Las Vegas will stand alone between the resorts in a park space reminiscent of its original Madison Square Park location. As usual, this new location will have Shake Shack's iconic griddle burgers and hot dogs, plus frozen custard and concretes tailored specifically to the Vegas audience. It's slated for an "early 2014" opening. Though many have tried to compare Shake Shack and In-N-Out burgers, Las Vegas will be the first true test.
Earlier this year, Umami Burger announced it had raised $20 million and had some serious plans for expansion, including Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Las Vegas; Philadelphia; and Miami. As for that first-ever Vegas location, the SBE hotel group has said that Umami Burger's will be among the food and beverage options at its new SLS Hotel opening in Las Vegas in Fall 2014. As CEO Adam Fleischman told Eater during Burger Week, in addition to the iconic original burger, Umami Burger is big on creating a new experience for each new location.
[Photo: Bradley Martin/Eater Vegas]
Bobby's Burger Palace
Though its the most recently announced, it looks like Bobby's Burger Palace will be the first of the East Coast upstarts to open in Las Vegas. According to Eater Vegas, Bobby Flay plans to open his first West Coast location at the end of this year at Crystals on the Strip (between Pinkberry and Starbucks). The new location will have BBP's menu of regionally inspired burgers such as the queso-topped Santa Fe burger, which can all be "crunchified" with potato chips.
With hundreds of units across the country, Five Guys is certainly growing at a faster pace than these other burger companies. But the DC-based chain opened its first Nevada location in Henderson in 2011. It now has six locations in the area, plus one that is forthcoming in Henderson. Armed with its double patties and free peanuts, Five Guys has also taken the fight directly to In-N-Out by, well, opening up just across the street.
That's Not All
Beyond those bigger names, Vegas is also seeing an even greater influx of burger chains. These include Kansas-based Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers (one location with eight more in the works); the expansion-minded Smashburger (five locations); and the world's first Gordon Ramsay BurGR. Stay tuned as the burger battles heat up in 2014.
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