Bareburger, an organically focused fast-casual eatery quickly reaching empire status, finally opens its doors to customers this week in Plainview.
After fighting through red tape and a laborious approval process, Bareburger’s CEO Euripides Pelekanos is excited to bring his burger brainchild to the intersection of Woodbury and South Oyster Bay roads, where Plainview meets Hicksville and Syosset, in a standalone building planted in the southwest corner of the Plainview Centre parking lot.
“The Plainview restaurant will be our flagship,” said Pelekanos, whose eatery was established in Astoria, Queens, in 2009. “It sits in a triangle where three towns meet and over 100,000 cars drive by every day. We’ve never done anything like this.”
Pelekanos’ first foray into a free-standing restaurant is made more intriguing by the materials used in the building process. Plainview’s Bareburger is constructed using recycled shipping containers salvaged from a dump in Newark, NJ. This means Bareburger’s sustainability efforts start well before the conversation reaches the contents of its menu.
“These shipping containers were rotting away, rusting away in Newark. The whole building is sustainable and green and recycled,” he said. “When we first proposed it to the landlord in Plainview, he was skeptical. ‘You want to stack garbage on top of garbage and make a restaurant?’ Actually, yes.”
Because of the unusual build, the approval process was arduous to say the least. But Pelekanos said the headaches and sleepless nights paid off, generating a structure unlike any other restaurant on Long Island. And the restaurant’s uncommon nature extends to the food—Bareburger is known for its environmentally conscious standards, organic ingredients and grass-fed beef alongside more exotic offerings like bison, boar and elk.
And the Plainview restaurant will be only the second of the franchise to roll out a brand new, extended menu beyond burgers, featuring more greens and veggies, expanded sandwich options and additional side dishes.
“It’s an evolution of our original concept,” said Pelekanos. “For burgers, we started off with bison, elk, ostrich and beef. We like to tinker with different proteins and their different health attributes. We like to push the envelope and see what’s out there and see what works.”
If there’s one aspect of Bareburger that works, it’s the concept. Starting in Astoria, Bareburger’s farm-to-table spirit has spread throughout the Metropolitan area and even has overseas outposts in the planning stages—totaling nearly 40 restaurants since the initial opening in June 2009.
Pelekanos’ idea for Bareburger first sprouted during his days running a nightclub called Sputnik in Brooklyn. During the club’s last few years of existence, Pelekanos began experimenting with the menu, offering organic burgers amid poetry slams, old school hip hop and rock shows.
“It made sense to serve that food in that neighborhood,” he said. “We were curious how our customers would take to it and it ended up being the only thing that kept the place going.”
When the economic collapse hit in 2008, Pelekanos shuttered Sputnik. Interested in a burger franchise, but unwilling to jump through prefabricated hoops, Pelekanos opened the first Bareburger—a tiny, 1,200 square-foot eatery in Astoria and it was an instant success. Manning the grill on the first day, he was shocked to see scores of people clamoring for farm fresh fare.
“It struck a chord with people immediately,” he said. “It was a combination of right place, right time, right recipe, right formula. It created an interesting dynamic. People wanted a sustainable, local, organic, socially conscious restaurant. And our restaurants are comfortable places. They’re not pretentious—they are fun and welcoming.”
Pelekanos has managed to keep the fun and welcoming atmosphere alive and well, even while expanding at such a fast pace. He believes the comforting concept coupled with his own steadfast loyalty to organic elements keeps Bareburger from growing stale and losing its luster.
“People love to come here because they don’t see it as a chain,” he said. “Even though we’ve expanded, it still has a cool mom-and-pop feel to it and that comes from the people—the staff, the managers.”
And when the doors of his shipping container-turned restaurant finally swing open in Plainview, Pelekanos will be there to welcome the community.
“A lot of restaurants preach community, but we really do it,” he said. “And for us, opening here was a no-brainer. It’s the perfect spot.”