The Counter will debut a fast-casual burger concept with a Chipotle-like service line in Los Angeles later this month.
The new concept, dubbed Built Custom Burgers by The Counter, will borrow from The Counter’s casual-dining menu options. But instead of ordering tableside with a clipboard, guests will be able to build their own burgers as they walk a service line.
“It’s everything you love about The Counter, but with a fast-casual format,” said Jeff Weinstein, founder and co-chief executive of Los Angeles-based The Counter.
Weinstein said he and partner Craig Albert developed Built after they were approached to bring The Counter to nontraditional locations, like airports and university campuses.
The Counter has a unit in Miami International Airport because a space big enough for the concept’s 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot footprint became available. But those opportunities are rare, Weinstein said.
Built — which has an approximately 1,700-square-foot footprint — plans to open its first restaurant near the campus of the University of Southern California, or USC, in about two weeks.
Burger patties at Built will be smaller than at The Counter, and price points will be lower. While the Counter offers patties in third-pound, two-thirds of a pound, and one-pound options, all burgers at BUILT will weigh a quarter of a pound. And Built’s price point will be $10 to $11 per burger, compared with $14 to $15 at The Counter, Weinstein said.
The concept will offer beef,, and veggie burgers, as well as occasional specials, such as bison burgers. Built will utilize The Counter’s proprietary cooking method, which Weinstein described as a slow-cook process with burgers finished on a char broiler, which takes two to three minutes. The system is used at most of The Counter’s locations now, he said.
“It’s how a lot of the big steakhouses do it,” Weinstein said. “It’s a slow-cook-to-sear-to-serve process that works really well.”
Toppings and sauces at Built will be limited to best sellers from The Counter with rotating specials. Built customers may also order their burger without a bun as a salad topper. Sides will include regular and sweet potato fries, seasonal slaw, potato salads and specials.
Built will offer one type of shake each week, along with a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. In the future, some locations may offer beer and wine, Weinstein said, but the first location will not.
Weinstein said a second restaurant is scheduled to open later this year at San Diego International Airport. In 2014, a third location is planned for the University of Miami in Florida. Beyond that, Weinstein said the company has not decided how they will grow Built and whether it will be franchised.
The Counter has 37 locations worldwide, including 33 in the U.S. that are mostly franchised.
International growth in particular is a “big opportunity” for The Counter, Weinstein said. The company has an agreement with Americana Group to open 38 units in the Middle East.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 5, 2013 An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Built is coming to University of San Diego. The restaurant is scheduled to open this year at San Diego International Airport.