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Posted on Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 2 p.m.

Big Boy to debut @burger restaurant concept on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor

By Erica Hobbs

@burger 1.JPG

Big Boy Restaurants is opening a new burger place called @burger in this building at 505 E. Liberty St. in Ann Arbor. The restaurant should open in July.

Erica Hobbs |

A new burger joint offering gourmet burgers at a fast food pace will be the newest addition to the McKinley Towne Centre building at 505 E. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

@burger, owned by Big Boy Restaurants, will be the first of what Big Boy CEO Keith Sirois said could eventually become a national chain. The restaurant plans to open in mid-to-late July. 

A second location, he said, could open as early as next year, possibly in Ann Arbor. He said Ann Arbor is a great location to start a business.

“It has a fabulous demographic mix,” he said. “You have folks from all over the country, from all over the state and all over the world. It’s just a terrific place to test the concept.”

That concept is a modern yet comfortable atmosphere for people who appreciate good food, he said.

Unlike Big Boy, which Sirois described as more of a family restaurant, @burger will not offer sit-down service. Instead, patrons will order at the counter and have the food brought to them in the restaurant’s dining room, which Sirois described as contemporary and comfortable. He said the dining room will include several TVs for sports programming as well as outdoor seating in the alley next door.

“It’s kind of a quick, casual concept,” he said.

The menu, Sirois said, will offer a “limited” selection of burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads. Burgers will be available in 7 ounce and 4 ounce sizes, with meat provided by Detroit-based meat packer Wolverine Packing Co.

“It’s a little larger burger with fresh baked buns made in the restaurant,” Sirois said. “It’s a proprietary blend of meat.”

Though the restaurant owns the recipes of more than 150 burger possibilities, Sirois said @burger’s menu will feature a steady selection of five to six burgers plus the option to build your own burger. He said the restaurant will “freshen” the menu now and then with rotating choices.

When it comes to vegetarian options, Sirois said @burger will offer several salads and is looking into offering vegetarians sandwiches as well.

“Particularly in Ann Arbor, we think that’s something folks would like to see,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s high quality.”

Price-wise, Sirois said a 7 ounce burger, chips and soft drink will run under $10, but said fixed prices have not yet been set.

@burger is also in the process of trying to obtain a liquor license to offer beer and wine, which Sirois said will complement the food.

“We want to offer some microbrews and local favorites,” he said. “We do know that folks love to have a glass of beer with their burger.”

The 3,185 square foot space will be the building’s final tenant, which also includes Tomukun Noodle Bar, lab and FedEx/Kinkos. 

“I think it’s a nice mix of tenants in there that help each other out,” McKinley's regional leasing director Dan Pasick said. “There’s both a national and local presence.”

Pasick said @burger won the lease after competing against other mostly food retailers, including SmashBurger, Five Guys Burgers and Fries - now moving to State Street - and other national chains.

He said Big Boy has solid credentials as a restaurant and McKinley liked the idea.

“We like that its going to be their first concept,” he said. “I think they had a unique product that would do good there.”

Erica Hobbs is a reporter for Reach her at 734 623-2537 or via e-mail at


Bryan H

Fri, Jun 25, 2010 : 9:22 p.m.

Seasoned Cit, There will be a no tipping policy. While your food is being prepared, you can get comfy and socialize.


Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 7:06 a.m.

Krazy Jim's is the only for me. XOXOXOXO!


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

The burger building concept is growing it looks like. Like that idea at Bagger Daves Agree with the Casey's/Redhawk burger, BUT have to now ADD The Grizz Burger at the Grizzly Peak --UMMM Very good!!!


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

Oh come on now, all the food-snobbery doth not become the A2 web site! I'll always have a soft-spot for Big Boy due to many a meal there as a kid with my Mom/Dad... How about "Don't knock it until, or unless you try it?" Mmmm. Sliders.


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 8:34 a.m.

A few years ago we had a the coffee wars and now we've managed to graduate to burgers? C'mon, this is still a Big Boy in alternative sheep's clothing (Boston Market = McD's) and their food has NEVER been great. I think this is bad timing and placement given that Le Dog, Tios, 5 Guys, and countless other eateries already rule the area. Besides, I thought the city had a ban on dangerous fast food?


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 8:16 a.m.

Hater of Chain Restaurants and Townie Upholder of All That is Local and Good, reporting for duty. Wolverine22, Sorry about the delay, but the construction of all these myriad burger joints around town delayed my Segway. It seems that one can't go anywhere without a burger construction detour. Hmm. Great Plains, 5 Guys, Bagger Daves, Red Robin, now then @Burger and not to mention already extant places that serve burgers downtown (every bar and brewery). Yep, this BurgerCraze is definitely shaping up to be the new Sub Sandwich Craze (Shadowmanager weeps a tear for the long departed downtown outlets of Subway, Quiznos, and Blimpies...). Short memory, big appetite, get a burger today!


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 6:26 a.m.

In this tough economy I wish this new venue the best of luck. Big Boy is a Michigan brand....I support my home state brands. Good luck with the new enterprise!


Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 6:16 a.m.

The best burger in south east Michigan can be had at the Red Coat Tavern on Woodward in Royal Oak. They have a piedmontese burger that is well worth the drive. Expect a wait if going at peak dining hours.

Jeff Westbrooks

Wed, Jun 9, 2010 : 5:28 a.m.

I'm working in Augusta,GA where I tried 5 Guys and I wasn't terribly impressed. Maybe the Ann Arbor one will be better. Ann Arbor is a great place to open a restaurant. If it's good people will flock there; if not, it'll close soon.

Seasoned Cit

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

Wonder when someone will try combining a Burger joint with a Coffee Shop with liquor license. Should keep all customers in the area full of their favorites.. Wonder how much you are supposed to tip the "servers" who will bring your food to the table that you order at the counter.

David Briegel

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

Top Cat, Lobster Bisque?


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 7:59 p.m.

this is what downtown needs and the citizens deserve!!! established businesses that know how to run a business. im sick of the rich mom and pop kids stores that open and work hours based on their own schedule and not the working worlds. why not get a target downtown to follow the design guidelines of our city and change the name of the business like big boy is doing. great to see this!


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 7:19 p.m.

Interesting that chain burger joints are coming back to downtown Ann Arbor. I remember when there was a McDonalds next to the Nickel's Arcade and Kinko's used to be a Burger King. If my memory is correct, one of the reasons both of those places closed is because they were attracting a lot of riff-raff and people didn't want to go to those particular places. Let's hope that doesn't happen with @burger.


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 5:40 p.m.

Sure...I'm down for a nive big veggie burger at times too.


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 4:25 p.m.

I think it's a must to offer at least two good vegetarian, non-salad choices in Ann Arbor... hope they go that route. Although I like a traditional burger as much as anyone too.

Top Cat

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 3:43 p.m.

Sounds boring. Thank God for Le Dog! Jules rules.


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

"I think Big Boy is headed for a solid Bill Knapping on this one." I don't know, I never heard of either of them so I'll probably tryu both and go for the best one.


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 2:15 p.m.

A good burger joint is almost always a cash cow. I wonder if they are going to open right before Art Fair? That will be a real test for them if they do.

eli neiburger

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

Oy vey. An unheard-of, clunkily-branded upstart going up a block from a new Five Guys? I think Big Boy is headed for a solid Bill Knapping on this one.


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

Well Big Boy is a Michigan business so the crying is kept to a minimum I think. But don't worry, they'll always be snarky posts about businesses trying to get young costumers in a college town. Imagine that!


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

where are the burger haters at today? and the guys who hate chain-restaurants? Let the complaints and the whiningand bitching begin!!!! :)

Matt Sussman

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.

Oh, I get it. The @ symbol signifies that it's a hip, trendy place for the youthful exuberant go-getter. Anybody want to buy some of my @pogs?


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

Can't wait for this to open, always willing to try a new burger :)


Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:31 p.m.

Always in for a good burger and new nusinesses in town.

Brian Bundesen

Tue, Jun 8, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

Holy cow! I guess the old fashioned business idea that you will never go broke if you serve a good hamburger is alive and well in Ann Arbor. We have Blimpy Burger, Great Plains, Bagger Daves, Casey's, the just opened Red Robin, 5 Guys plus @burger in the works. Let the burger wars begin!