Fresh from this week’s victory in BurgerBusiness.com’s 2010 Burger Brackets, Blanc Burgers + Bottles isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, Circle Restaurant Group Partners Ernesto Peralta Jr. and Josh Eans (also its chef) aren’t resting at all. They’re working hard to finish their new restaurant, scheduled to open at the end of the month.
b:2 A Burger Boutique will be another burger-menu restaurant without being another Blanc Burgers + Bottles. “b:2 is sort of Blanc’s little brother,” says Eans. “It has the same genes, the same pedigree, it’s just scaled down a bit.” One of four restaurants in the new Summit Fair lifestyle/retail center in Lee’s Summit, Mo., b:2 is 3,500 square feet in size, with indoor seating for 90 (another 40 can dine on the patio in nice weather). In contrast, Blanc’s location at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., is 5,400 square feet and seats 175. A second Blanc is in Leawood, Kan.
“Modern, dineresque” b:2′s menu will have its own personality. Eans has created his version of McDonald’s iconic Big Mac, and there will be an on-trend patty melt with sautéed mushrooms. One of Blanc’s best sellers is the Inside Out Burger, stuffed with blue cheese and topped with applewood-smoked bacon and onion rings. b:2′s twist will be an Inside Out Brat, with the bratwurst formed into a patty and stuffed with pepper-Jack cheese. It will be served on a pretzel bun. Offering full table service, as does Blanc, b:2′s bar will stock only American craft beers, leaving Blanc to pour upscale Belgian and other international brews.
“I think Blanc has been successful because we’re different than any other burger place. I haven’t seen another place that does things like we do,” says Eans. He and the kitchen and management staffs have fine-dining experience and sensibilities that they simply have applied to burgers, he says. “That’s why we use brioche buns and why we have ingredients—from Kobe beef to foie gras and lobster—that you’d find at a high-end restaurant. We just put all that in an accessible package, which is a burger. And you can’t get our burgers anywhere else.”
Eans says he and Peralta have talked about some day doing a nonburger restaurant concept. Pizza’s possible. “We’d want to keep the same focus as we have at Blanc, where we just do burgers,” Eans says. “If we opened a pizza place, we’d just do really high-quality pizza. Maybe with a few appetizers.” Peralta might be interested in creating a restaurant featuring the sophisticated cuisine of his native Mexico City, Eans adds. But that’s down the road. For now, their world is Blanc, b:2 and burgers, and that’s working out fine for them.