Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Boulevard Burgers - San Leandro

I probably only have a couple of readers in range of this place but perhaps people will find this post via Google as well, and anyway it was an interesting experience.

So a nearby restaurant at 1027 MacArthur Boulevard closed, and that happens to be on one of the walking loops I take with the baby. (Sleep, baby, sleep!) They've been remodeling for a while and they had a kind of soft opening today. I noticed the open sign was lit, and they'd only been open about five hours. They'd printed out a copy of a really basic menu (couple kinds of burgers, fries, sodas). The seating didn't really seem to be all there and it looks to me like the remodel maybe isn't quite done yet. People were trying to figure out basic things like how exactly the register worked. The guy running things (owner? manager?) was apologizing that they hadn't thought to add combos but they'd do that someday soon so it would be a bit cheaper to get burgers and fries.

There were some loose wires hanging from the wall. Hopefully nothing too important.

But hey, you have to open sometime, right?

They were actually doing a pretty good business. People were sticking their heads in and introducing themselves and saying they were glad the place was open. We ran into some folks my wife knows. Clearly folks in the neighborhood have been keeping an eye on the place. It's a good location and a good fit for the area, I think. The burgers were on the expensive side but they were clearly high quality fresh beef, fresh produce, etc. Then again, how old could it be?

I imagine they'll start doing a weekend brunch at some point - there's kind of a gap in that area since another local place, called the Cornerstone Cafe, closed, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they're going to add some pasta dishes and such. The words "pulled pork" were uttered. The restaurant that used to be in that location was pretty high end so I think they have a pretty good kitchen back there so I think they could go in a couple of different directions if they wanted.

It was nice to see somebody kind of feeling their way into the business. They aren't starting with some massive menu of redundant dishes. They aren't trying to do everything at once. They aren't exactly replicating Cornerstone Cafe (that had pretty good pasta but really mediocre burgers). Start with really nice burgers, get some word of mouth going, get an income stream going, and see what works. Hopefully they have deep enough pockets that they can play with things a bit until they get it dialed in, but they should be really successful if they play their cards right.

I'd provide a link but as far as I can tell they don't have a website yet. Shocking, I know...

Update: Day eight - they've added burger-like-objects. Veggie burgers, chicken options. Also some salads. One high chair which is a bit odd - they stack so it's not like they take up more space as you add them. And places of that size usually have 2-3. Right after we went in for a bit of early dinner they got a serious dinner rush so people are clearly getting the message that they're open.

Update: Day 21. I've eaten there five times I think. They finally added more high chairs (3 total - 2 in use when we were there) and they have good chocolate shakes although they're not actually on the menu yet. Pretty much everybody there had at least one kid so both moves are in line with that. It's right off the freeway and I've seen a line of Highway Patrol motorcycles out front, but it's mostly neighbors and people who go to the ballet and akido schools in the same block.

They actually posted hours - closed Sunday. (Update: they're now open each day 11am - 9pm except they close an hour early on Sunday)

Update: Day 28 - It's funny when you look at some of the food review sites - there are reviews saying they don't have milkshakes and they added them two weeks ago. Are they just not observant? Did it just take them a couple of weeks to post the review? One person said nothing tasted right, including the salt and the onion. Um, if everything tastes weird, maybe it's you. It's winter, it's not like it would be unusual to have a stuffy nose or be taking something for it that might affect the taste. Duh. Really makes me wonder about the people on those sites.

Update: As of Jan 21st I'm still eating there regularly and it's always been great.

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