Restaurant Notes extra: Owners of Catablu, Dairy Queen combine skills into BurgerFi

BurgerFi, which opened Monday at 7777 Coldwater Road, features beef and vegan burgers and craft ales from area breweries. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
BurgerFi has craft beer on tap including Chapman's Brewing Co.'s Englishman Brown Ale and Bell's Brewery's Two Hearted Ale as well as Miller's Lite. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
BurgerFi puts its brand into its burger buns. It uses Angus beef and fresh ingredients and hand-cuts its fries, said Gavin Hart, co-owner of the new BurgerFi at 7777 Coldwater Road. (Courtesy photo)
A custard shake beckons customers at BurgerFi, where they can also choose different flavors, including a BurgerFi exclusive lime flavoring, for their Coca-Cola products. Staff will be on hand to help patrons not familiar with the touch-screen machines, said co-owner Gavin Hart. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
BurgerFi's light fixtures are reminiscent of meat hooks. However, the restaurant also serves vegan burgers. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Cutting down on the eco footprint, BurgerFi has tables made from recycled wood pallets and some chairs each made from 111 recycled Coca-Cola bottles. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
The patio furniture at BurgerFi, 7777 Coldwater Road, is made from reused milk jugs. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Gavin Hart is bringing his experience with quick service at his Dairy Queen restaurants while business partner, Mike Catalogna, brings the dining experience of his Catablu Grille into their joint venture, BurgerFi, 7777 Coldwater Road. (Photo by

Gavin Hart has seen the social media comments: Fort Wayne doesn’t need another $12 burger place.

The co-owner of the new BurgerFi, which stands for Burgerfication of America, says customers will find the BurgerFi Cheeseburger – two natural Angus beef patties with American cheese, lettuce tomato and BurgerFi sauce – for $7.17 has enough value to justify the trip. Add an order of regular hand-cut fries, made in-house daily just like the onion rings, for $3.57 and a Coke product for $2.77, which comes with a variety of add-in flavors, and you’ve got a meal.

“The better burger concept is around,” he admits, but at BurgerFi “this is more a fast-food family option.”

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant at 7777 Coldwater Road also serves craft beers, including Chapman’s Brewing Co.’s Englishman Brown Ale. While the adults enjoy their beverages and meals, children can choose a meal that comes with a hot dog or cheeseburger, fries and a juice for $6.97. Vegetarians and vegans will also have options.

“We’ll be the first national franchise to have the Beyond Meat plant-based burger,” Hart said. It’s made with 14 ingredients.

The $7.17 VegeFi Burger is made with a quinoa-and-veggie-blend burger, white cheddar, lettuce, tomato and BurgerFi sauce and comes on a multigrain bun.

However, after visiting numerous BurgerFi restaurants he realized customers could get a variety of toppings to burgers, including a fried egg.

General manager Steve Manos said, “If we got the ingredients, we’ll make it.”

It might cost a little extra, but bacon, an onion ring or a fried egg are options.

The restaurant, which seats 72 inside and has patio seating for 36, also serves hot dogs and a chicken sandwich. It has custard shakes in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee mocha, and for the season, red velvet.

The restaurant, which was set to officially open Monday, is part of a relatively small, young chain. Begun in 2011 in Florida, BurgerFi now has over 100 restaurants.

Hart fell in the love with the restaurant during trips to Florida and joined business partner Mike Catalogna in the venture after visiting about a dozen BurgerFi restaurants and taking part in 2 years of planning.

Hart comes from a background of owning Dairy Queen restaurants. Catalogna owns Catablu Grille in Covington Plaza.

Catalogna “brings in the fine dining and I bring in the quick service,” Hart said.

Don’t want to stand in line if there’s a crowd at the opening? You can choose either the app to place your order by phone for pickup or use the kiosk at the front of the restaurant and your order will be sent to the kitchen while you find a table.

The tables at BurgerFi show its emphasis on recycling. Inside tables are made from compressed wood pallets. Industrial-style chairs each are fashioned from 111 Coca-Cola bottles. The wood panel walls come from No. 2 southern pine lumber, the 10-foot ceiling fan consumers 88 percent less energy than comparable models, all the lighting is energy-efficient LED, and the patio furniture is made from recycled milk jugs, according to the company.

BurgerFi is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Have restaurant news? Call Lisa M. Esquivel Long at 260-461-8354, send email to lesquivel@news-sentinel.com or a fax to 260-461-8817 or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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