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Posted on Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

BurgerFi restaurant plans to open near University of Michigan's campus

By Lizzy Alfs


BurgerFi restaurant is preparing to open at 1235 S. University Ave., near the University of Michigan campus.

Lizzy Alfs |

BurgerFi, a Florida-based restaurant chain that sells all-natural hamburgers made with grass-fed beef, is preparing to open near the University of Michigan’s campus.

A franchisee signed a lease for the 3,645-square-foot space on the first-floor of the University Towers apartment building on the corner of South Forest and South University. Sushiya most recently occupied the space, which was listed for lease with Swisher Commercial’s Mike Giraud and Randy Maas when the Japanese restaurant closed.

“We talked to a lot of people (about the space),” Giraud said. “We really were trying to be very particular, and the (BurgerFi) product was a good product and a concept that should work.”


The "Breakfast All Day" Burger from BurgerFi is has American cheese, bacon drizzled with maple syrup, a fried egg, hash browns, grilled onions and ketchup.

Courtesy of BurgerFi

According to the BurgerFi website, hamburgers are made with all-natural, grass-fed beef.

Along with customizable burgers, the menu includes a quinoa veggie burger, a brisket burger, all-natural Kobe beef dog, chicken dog, hand-cut French fries, frozen custard, and more. The restaurants also serve wine and craft beer that varies by restaurant location.

In addition, the restaurants are built using “earth-friendly elements,” like chairs made from recycled Coke bottles and tables made out of recycled wood.

There are about 45 BurgerFi locations that are operating or under construction, according to a company spokesperson.

In recent months, Lovell Contractors applied for City of Ann Arbor permits to move forward with interior demolition at the Ann Arbor restaurant, and renovations were underway on Monday morning.

It’s unclear when the restaurant will open, and the franchisee could not be reached for comment. The BurgerFi website says “coming soon” for the Ann Arbor restaurant.

Across the street from BurgerFi, franchisees for Florida-based World of Beer are renovating a first-floor space at the Landmark student high-rise. Owners Steve Rossi and Chad Wilson are hoping to open the craft beer bar in mid June.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Wed, May 22, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

It seems like forever since Orange Julius was at that location for a long time back in the eighties. Since then, it seems like a new player is at that corner every few years. A lot of turnover. Seems like a great location for business but longevity seems to be everyone's biggest challenge.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Someone should turn it into a bar that happens to serve food. That seems to be the only way to survive on South U. I give burgerfi 18 months before it goes the way of the ill-fated Grand Traverse Pie Co. on Liberty. That location also has not done well. @burger anyone?

Lightnin' Bug

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Not to mention the rent per square foot....

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

Orange Julius? Like the smoothie place? I think one issue with the location is just the size of the space. It's pretty large, and maybe in order to survive, it needs to be a sit-down restaurant that serves alcohol. It was way too big for a pizza by the slice place.

Boo Radley

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

You cannot get Kobe Beef in the US. And certainly not in a hot dog. Kobe Beef labeling and claims is one of the biggest food scams around. There is a Wagyu Beef that is very good, but it is still not Kobe.

Lightnin' Bug

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Wagyu. Damn auto correct!

Lightnin' Bug

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

Very true most of the wag you comes from Colorado. Another scam is black angus beef.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

Though I would rarely, if ever, wish a business venture failure, I'm getting really sick of all the "fast casual" dining places in town. Between them and the 7-11's, downtown is getting really plastic.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

Sounds pricey, if the ingredients are actually what they are advertising. Some restaurants in larger cities around the country (not this chain which wasn't tested) were found to be advertising high end ingredients on menus, and after testing and investigation were found to actually be lower quality ingredients. How would you know if you were eating "grass fed beef" if it's ground up in a burger. Can anyone tell? Same problem with Kobe beef dog. How the heck would anyone know if they were eating top of the line pricey "Kobe" beef in a hot dog, which is ground up meat (supposedly) stuffed into a skin. Sounds like hype to me, even if a small part of the "Kobe" hot dog actually contained "Kobe" beef.......which part of that "Kobe" cow was used in that hotdog.....


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Isn't this the fourth restaurant to open here in the past 8 years or so?


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

I can't remember what it was before Hop-In but it was something like a coney I thought. I seem to remember some chinese or asian food restaurant there at one time as well that was very short lived.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Wow, Hop In...there's a blast from the past. Around the Coney joint it was also that kind of causal dining place (with non-casual prices). I remember they had a dessert where they stuck sparklers in it.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

Before that, it was "Kings Coney Island" or whatever. I used to live in U-Towers when that was Hop-In.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

@D: I'm not sure, but NYPD closed there in 2009 -

Lucas and Kevin

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

One more quick thing from us... Lizzy, what's the latest word on the street about the Blimpy relocation?

Lucas and Kevin

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Sorry for the commotion, everyone. Kyle's right, we're just a couple of guys interested in burgers! Let's all settle down and have a burger sometime. :-) Thanks for the reporting, Lizzy. See you all on the burger trail. -MBB

Kyle Mattson

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

These are just two guy interested in burgers MW. We do allow links from time to time for personal blogs just as long as they don't make a habit of it.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

How can you thank him for posting the comment Lizzy when one of the abuses to report is "advertising/spam?"

Lightnin' Bug

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

North side is what I heard.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

Thanks for posting the comment about Great Plains. This also made me remember that Elevation Burger (a similar concept as BurgerFi) is opening on Washtenaw. As for Blimpy, no word on a new location still. I'll keep you updated!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

If their fries are cooked in tallow from grass fed cows I'm going to be very impressed. Maybe an option to get their burgers wrapped in lettuce leaves or some other grain-free wrapping too?

Matt A

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Having eaten at one of their Florida locations, I can tell you that I'm excited that they are coming to town!! The food is fresh and really delicious. Highly recommended!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

I think this is a great location. As a student myself I know I will be dinning here. The fact that it is in a student area makes it even better. The concern about the location shouldn't be one. I have worked at Pizza House and know for a fact that a student is more than willing to pay extra for a quality burger and beer.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

A student *with pop's $ is definitely willing to pay extra in the long term. For the same price, however, I can buy about 30 hot dogs.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4 p.m.

That's one of my pet peeves with restaurants that cater to students. I'm dining, but they're dinning. Can't I just eat in peace?

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

When I saw this headline, I too thought of price. I read a Miami Herald review talking about the high prices of this chain in Florida. But with Five Guys on the other side of campus, this will be the only real burger joint in this student area. There's maize and blue deli, which is pretty cheap, but it's not a burger joint. I know Ann Arborites are very concerned about food sourcing, but I don't know how much of this is felt by students. I will be interested to see how this restaurant fares.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

Good points, Kellie. Although there is no strictly "burger" joint in that area, there is a lot of fast casual and then the sit-down restaurants that all serve burgers (like Brown Jug, Charley's, Pizza House) The same question about whether students are concerned about food sourcing could be applied to World of Beer: do students have an interest in craft beer? I guess only time will tell on both!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

A burger joint? In Ann Arbor? Brilliant! Why didn't someone think of this before?

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

In 2010, Paula Gardner wrote an article about the Ann Arbor burger joint trend: A quote from at the time: "It's the latest hot phenomenon," said Max Goldman, a commercial real estate broker at Ludwig & Seeley in Farmington Hills."

Annette Poole

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Absolutely. There's an overabundance of burger places already.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Hmmm...authentic Kobe beef?


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Bye Bye ethnicity of Ann Arbor :(


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Because the Chinese restaurant, Sushi place, and Asian tea place all in the same block don't count. (Not even counting "Pancheros" as being ethnic, though technically it's chain ethnic food).

Peter Eckstein

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Surely the "Breakfast all Day" could be redefined to get rid of the ketchup and replace it with lard or something else that would make it all-cholesterol.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

Looks tasty but it would be "heartburn all day" for me.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Open soon....I need one of the breakfast burgers right now. I will be there!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

I love the concept and commend the owners for bringing it here, but I'm somewhat concerned about the prospect of success in that location. It's in a student dominated area and they tend to go for less expensive chow. Still, I wish them success.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

I miss Uno's, Matt!


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

That corner seems many restaurants have been there?

Matt Lang

Tue, May 21, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

i remember when McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell were on South U or near it, all moved out. There is only a trickle of business from May thru early September, the Art Fair being the exception. I worked at Pizza Uno's a number of years ago (also long gone) and the owners depended very heavily on the Art Fair revenue to survive the summer months, one year they closed for the month of August because they didn't do as well during the Art Fair as they had hoped.


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

Concept sounds expensive. Surprised it's a chain, can't imagine long term viability except in Seattle, Oregon, California...


Tue, May 21, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

In the shadow of a $15 Zingerman's Reuben sandwich, and the line out the door for it, this is a fair bet.