[UPDATE: Philly blog Unbreaded provided this early look at Starr's burger shack on May 8.] Stephen Starr (l.) already operates a dozen restaurants in Philadelphia (as well as two in New York City and four in Atlantic City), which you’d think would be enough. But Starr is one of those delightfully, creatively restless restaurateurs who keep the industry growing and interesting. His latest venture is a seasonal burger stand that is set to open in Philly’s Franklin Square in mid-summer.
Like Union Square Hospitality Group’s Shake Shack in New York City, Starr Restaurant Group’s burger concept is envisioned as a low-key, high-traffic affair, with a menu focused on specialty burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, shakes, salads and gelato. The burger stand initially will be no more than a tent, according to press reports, with a permanent structure coming later.
The burger stand is a surprising down-market move for Starr, whose restaurants are generally high-end concepts. His portfolio includes the two Morimoto restaurants (in Philly and New York City) with former Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto; Buddakan locations in Philly, New York City and Atlantic City; and Barclay Prime, a Philly steakhouse where the Kobe beef burger is priced at $14. Burgers sold from a tent are likely to be priced more real-worldly.
Meanwhile, Starr also is moving beyond his East Coast territory to open another new steak concept, Steak 954, in the W Hotel in Lauderdale Beach, Fla. The restaurant is expected to open its doors by the end of this month. One highlight in the 100-seat dining room will be a 15-foot-long jellyfish aquarium. Jason Smith, formerly of Govind Armstrong’s Table 8 in South Beach, is overseeing the menu, which will specialize in dry-aged steaks. But watch for a signature 954 Burger on the lunch menu as well as the Kobe-beef cheesesteak that Philly boy Starr has made one of his calling cards.