Interview with Epik Burger

August 10, 2013 30 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article interviews Korey Konopasek, Chef/Owner of Epik Burger.

1. Tell us about Epik Burger.

Epik Burger is a "better burger" restaurant in the class of places like M Shack, Five Guys and Smashburger. But I wanted to go for something different. Everyone else has gone for a simple approach and I wanted to do a huge variety of burgers that are different and interesting. I was looking for things people would want to try and things I'd never seen anyone else doing before. I also wanted to provide people with healthy options so they could eat a burger and feel good about it.

2. What sort of variety do you carry?

We have over 34 burgers on the menu. We also carry beef, ahi tuna, chicken and veggie burgers. The burgers we carry are pretty eclectic. We have Korean burgers, barbecue burgers with fried onions, vegan burgers, gluten free options, Hawaiian local burgers, and BLT burgers. We also use a lot of toppings you won't find many places - things like brie, pancetta instead of bacon, and cornichons instead of pickles.

3. What's the difference between a Fast Food Burger and a Restaurant Burger?

It's the size - a Restaurant Burger is bigger - and it's that a Restaurant Burger can be cooked to temperature because it is bigger. That's something that no quick service restaurant is going to offer - letting you get a medium, medium rare or medium well burger. The only reason we don't do that with the Fast Food Burger is because it's a smaller burger so we do them well done.

4. How long has Epik Burger been open?

We opened in mid-April (2013).

5. Is Epik Burger part of a chain?

No, although that is a common misconception. If you visit us it will be pretty obvious that we're a local restaurant. We have picnic tables and some locally sourced decor. We have aluminum siding on the facing of the front counter that would normally go on a roof. For the logo I wanted to created something that was more polished to present ourselves as a professional business.

6. What attracted you to your location?

I live in that area, for one. In this area there are no fast casual restaurants in existence. When you head to Beach and Kernan or Hodges there's a plethora of restaurants to choose from. The demographics are good here as well. There are a lot of neighborhoods nearby. Atlantic Boulevard is a very busy road - Kernan and Atlantic, down the street, is one of the busiest intersections in Jacksonville. So, it seemed like a busy area and the plaza we're in is right near the road, so it has decent visibility to it.

Pinoy Burger, the caramelized onions are slow cooked for hours in the adobo juices

7. You describe your burgers as representing the culinary bases of many cultures. What do you mean by that?

We have burgers like an Italian burger that has tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and pancetta on it. We also have an Hawaiian Locals burger which has Spam, a fried egg and soy sauce on it. I don't think I've seen anyone put Spam on a burger before. We have a Korean Barbecue burger that comes with Korean barbecue marinade when it's grilled and has kimchi added afterwards. We have a Vietnamese Burger that's served on a baguette similar to a banh mi sandwich you'd get at a Vietnamese restaurant, but with a burger. My wife is Filipino so we have a Pinoy Burger that has an onion adobo on top of the burger.

8. Why did you offer grass fed beef as an option?

For me it offers a taste of beef the way it's supposed to taste. If you go back before large scale farming, to when cattle were just roaming around the farm, that's what beef would taste like. It's similar to having a terroir with wine - you have a particular flavor that imparts to the grape based on where it's grown. It's the same with the beef. It's got a slightly stronger, beefier flavor to it. I've also read that grass fed beef is healthier for you and I wanted to provide a higher quality, healthier beef option to people.

9. Why do you use brioche and baguettes for your bread rather than a standard burger bun?

When I wanted to do a hamburger place I wanted to do it my way. That's important, because when I get it right it will be transparent to the customers and hopefully they'll appreciate what I'm doing. I wanted to create what I thought was the perfect burger - hence the grass fed beef and the brioche bun. When you get a normal burger, so often you get half way through and the bread has been pushed down to being so thin it's barely in existence. For me, I don't enjoy that. The brioche has a good consistency and a little more flavor.

10. Do you make your own bread?

No, we purchase it from a local bakery.

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