OnlyBurger to open second brick-and-mortar restaurant downtown

May. 05, 2014 @ 06:53 PM

OnlyBurger, the business that started as a hamburger-and-fries food truck whose customers could track its location using social media websites like Twitter, is expanding with a second brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Business owner Brian Bottger has signed a lease for a location in downtown Durham at the new Diamond View III building at American Tobacco, he confirmed Monday. The restaurant is targeted to open in August.

“I think being part of American Tobacco and its redevelopment and downtown Durham is very exciting,” Bottger said. “I’ve…felt downtown Durham is waiting to happen. The time has come to get down there before there’s nothing left down there.”

OnlyBurger started as a mobile food truck in 2008. It was launched by Tom Ferguson, the owner of Durham Catering Co. and the biscuit and doughnut eatery Rise, and Sam Poley, the marketing and communications director at the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Durham was in-need of a good burger at that time; it was pretty dry as far as burgers go,” Ferguson said.

Bottger knew Ferguson from working in restaurants in Durham, and had worked for him at Durham Catering. He was in California at the time of the truck’s launch, but heard about it and asked if he could buy the business when it was off the road because of a vehicle accident. He said he had read about how a truck in California was using social media to connect with customers. He bought into the business, and began running the truck’s operations.

OnlyBurger’s first brick-and-mortar restaurant opened on Shannon Road in 2010. The opening changed the business model, allowing the owners to take the truck to more catering events, he said, and to do less parking on the street and waiting for customers.

They plan to continue to base the truck out of that location when the second restaurant opens, he said, explaining that it’s a good location and allows for loading and unloading. They use the restaurant as a commissary base for the truck.

Talks about a restaurant location at American Tobacco first started several years ago, Bottger said, but they chose not to open there because of expense and other issues. They approached him again, but he said he wasn’t financially in a position to do it then because he had bought the remaining share in the business to become sole owner. 

He said he heard six to nine months ago that talks to open a different burger and fries restaurant at the building fell through, and he was able to begin negotiations again. He said they finalized the lease last week.

The new location will be in the Diamond View III building at 359 Blackwell Street, Suite 125, across from the American Tobacco complex and adjacent to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. At 1,850-square-feet, the space will have twice as much seating as the Shannon Road location and will have food-truck decorations.

In addition to burgers and fries, OnlyBurger will sell locally brewed draft beers and hand-scooped, old-fashioned milkshakes at the new location.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be a bigger space, allow us to spread out just a little bit,” Bottger said.

The restaurant will join an eatery line-up at the Diamond View III building that includes the sandwich shop Which Wich and Moe’s Southwest Grill. A new barbecue restaurant by Pitmaster Ed Mitchell called ’Que is expected to open there.

“We look forward to opening at American Tobacco and serving Durham's best burgers to everyone living, working and playing downtown.” Bottger said in a statement.