Fatburger to re-enter the New Jersey market, opening Friday at Cherry Hill Mall
Fatburger, a California-based burger and wings chain, re-enters the New Jersey market with Cherry Hill Mall location, opening Friday. Tammy Paolino, @CP_TammyPaolino
They’ve been coming in for a few weeks.
These are not just burger lovers, these are the hardcore burger fans, the ones who are committed. They know about the Triple King (XXXL) Fatburger, the one with three meat patties that, at a pound and a half, makes other burgers tremble.
They know about the Wall of Fame, which honors only those who can eat an entire Triple King, and they want their face up there.
The place wasn’t even open yet. The kitchen was still being assembled, the team was still being hired. But there they were, salivating and crowing about how they would eat those things, no problem. And get on the Wall, man.
And now they can come back and see if they can back up all that talk with some serious burger-eating action.
Friday is the soft launch of New Jersey’s only Fatburger location, as the California-based burger chain opens its doors at Cherry Hill Mall. As first reported by Courier Post, a MidiCi restaurant, another California chain, will open next door soon.
The burger restaurant, established in West L.A. 1952, was in Jersey once before, in the Borgata, but since that location closed, all Triple King hopefuls had nowhere to go.
It's a family affair
Franchise owner Praveen Vig, who lives in Mays Landing, and his team are ready to get busy cooking hundreds of made-to-order burgers, fries and onion rings, wings and a whole lot more so more New Jerseyans can see what all the fuss is about, even if they want something more modest than a Triple King.
Vig and his family formerly owned several Atlantic City eateries, including Aunt Annnie’s Pretzels and an Asian Fusion restaurant inside the Bally’s Casino. For 18 years, they owned Maharaja Express in the Taj Mahal.
“We were looking to get into a franchise food business’’ after the Taj closed, explains Praveen a few days before his soft launch. “My daughter is very fond of the fond of the food industry and she pointed out Fat Burger. They have no presence on the East Coast. She read about it and she gave me a push.’’
Ambika Vig, a recent Holy Spirit (Abesecon) High School graduate, will attend Rowan University in Glassboro this fall to study entrepreneurship, while also working in the family business.
Her dad recalls visiting Fatburger at the Borgata and seeing “lines out the door,’’ but when the casino streamlined its food court, the high-performing location was closed.
“We liked the history, we liked the concept, and what was behind the concept, and the reputation and the product that the company stood behind. Bringing it back to the East Coast was exciting as well.’’.
Ambika says she’s worked in her family businesses since she was about 9 years old.
“I remember she would ring up the products and give the correct change to the customer,’’ Praveen recalls. “I always see her, she really wants to learn.’’
So why did Fatburger seem like the right choice for her family?
“I just love that it is fast but good, quality food, and everything is made fresh. When you taste it, it is like gourmet. You can’t compare it to any other fast food place. I would come here with my friends.’’
She was so enthusiastic, in fact, that her dad took her along to attend training in California to prepare to open the franchise.
It isn’t hard to imagine this family opening more than one location in the South Jersey area.
“Honestly,’’ says Praveen. “Ever since we knew we were doing this, reputable landlords who heard we were coming here wanted us to open a Fatburger at their locations. But we’ll put that on the back burner for now. We want to make sure we have a great place here, that we are up and running and doing well. Once we have a great team here, we will consider another location. People are just excited that we are bringing the concept back to the East Coast.’’
The Vig family also includes his wife Santinder Vig, and a second daughter, six-year-old Siya.
“In this business, sometimes the contributions from the wife and spouse and partner is just as important to your success as your employees, sometimes more important. She’s been supportive since the beginning, always right next to me, always there.’’
What about the food?
Fatburger will be powered by between 20 to 25 crew members who are trained to prepare burgers, fries, wings and much more.
Buffalo’s, a second brand owned by the Fatburger company, is a store-within-a-store, as Fatburger will offer fresh boneless and regular chicken wings in a choice of a dozen flavors.
“Another exciting thing is the Impossible Burger,’’ says Praveen. “It’s a protein/plant-based burger, and an excellent choice for a vegan or vegetarian burger.’’ Bocca and turkey burgers also are available. Not eating gluten? You can get your Skinny Burger, which means the meat patties are in the place where the bun would normally be.
Milkshakes come in chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, Oreo and Mahi banana flavors. They are made from real, hand-scooped ice cream, fresh fruit and just a little milk. Burgers are from grass-fed cattle. Meat is an 80/20 fat percentage, never frozen and there is no microwave on the premises, Praveen says.
Customers order, pay at the counter and are given a number to take back to their table, where the Fatburger team will bring their food when it’s ready.
'Last Great Hamburger Stand'
This is the 71st Fatburger location Mary McGill of Fatburger has helped launch. She was on site earlier this week to help train the staff. (In the past, there have been a few other New Jersey locations in addition to Atlantic City, all now closed. Most of the franchises are in Western states.)
The company's tagline is "The last great hamburger stand.'' This one is situated near Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52, next to where Bobby Flay's Burgers used to be. (That location is slated to become the MidiCi pizza restaurant).
“I want to open 100 before I retire,’’ says McGill, corporate director of operations, on a break from slicing onion rings, adding that when the Atlantic City location closed, it was No. 2 in the chain for volume.
“(Praveen’s) going to be a great addition to the Fat Burger family. This location, you couldn’t have picked a better location right at the entrance to the mall.’’
Tammy Paolino covers restaurants, breweries, food trucks and arts events for the USA TODAY New Jersey Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered the Garden State for more than 30 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 856-854-9440 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.
If you go
Fatbuger is scheduled to open Friday, June 28, pending final inspections. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. fatburger.com/