Most restaurateurs would agree that any new concept should be fine-tuned during its first year as it climbs up the learning curve and gets to know its customers. This wisdom has not bypassed Mark and Margarita Challenger, owners of Everest Burger, located at 91 Green Bay Rd. in Glencoe, Ill. (847-242-0909). This “better burger” joint, which opened in February 2011, is located on the Winnetka/Glencoe border in the North Shore area of Chicago. The owners are an engaging couple who also own the very popular Guanajuato Contemporary Mexican and Tequila Bar a few doors down from Everest Burger. They have made several key changes during 2011 and the customers couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’ve learned a lot during our first year at Everest Burger,” said Mark, “and we’ve made some significant changes that will better serve our customers. We’ve moved to a different supplier of beef, changed some of our ingredients, added new recipes, changed our menu presentation, and moved to full table service because that’s what our customers want. We’ve also started daily breakfast service.” The core mission of Everest Burger has not changed, however. “Our goal still remains to serve fresh, healthy food that our guests will find to be a delicious, intelligent alternative to typical burger joint fare,” he says.
The beef is juicier and richer tasting
The first thing the Challengers did was to review their choice of all-natural beef. “We originally chose a Piedmontese beef that is a very lean, healthy, all-natural product that contains no hormones, additives or antibiotics,” said Mark. “It’s a great product, but we found that it was simply too lean to please our customers tastes—they are used to richer beef. What was missing was the robust flavor that can be found in beef that has a higher fat content.” So the Challengers spent several months researching other beef suppliers and eventually chose Missouri-based Rain Crow Ranch
“This company brings to Everest Burger all of the qualities we look for,” said Mark. “The beef is still all-natural, grass-fed and free of any hormones, additives and antibiotics. It’s also raised in the most cattle-friendly way possible. The difference is that the beef is from Angus cattle and delivers a heartier flavor experience. Our burgers are now juicer, moister and more flavorful than before and our customers love them. So do our kids.” Everest Burger still grinds its beef in-house and the process has been improved for better texture. By grinding them in-house we can be assured that we are using the exact cuts of beef that we want. When you buy a pre-ground product as most burger restaurants do, you cannot be assured you are getting the quality you want.
The burgers are now larger and the pricing is also simpler. The regular sized Everest Burger served with fries ($9.95) has been increased from 4 ounces to 5 ounces. The “big and juicy” burger (8 ounces) is also available at $12.95. Each burger recipe is priced the same no matter if the guest chooses grass-fed beef, free-range chicken or turkey, or organic vegetarian (black bean, Portobello or walnut). However, there is a $3 up-charge for choosing Wild Alaskan Salmon, which is flown in from Alaska. All burgers now come with choice of homemade French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Carrot Sticks or Coleslaw included in the price.
There are some other nice changes to the menu. The all grass-fed beef hot dogs are now served Chicago-style, with mustard, onion, tomato, celery salt, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers and a pickle spear. Sweet potato fries and homemade coleslaw are new options and there are also weekly specials like the Glencoe Burger (arugula, olive oil mayonnaise, tomato, and onion, ketchup and served on a house-made sesame bun) and the Great Gringo Burger (Corona beer marinated beef served with chipotle mayonnaise, tomato, ketchup, lettuce and grilled jalapenos). All condiments and produce are organic. On the dessert side, Everest Burger’s frozen yogurt is creamier than ever and they use real organic yogurt from Wisconsin in the recipe, unlike most other frozen yogurt that is made from powder.
The kids menu continues to be popular and there are several improvements. Pasta and meatballs are now available as well as meatball sliders. The kids’ meals are served in delightful, artistic cardboard cars and trucks.
Another big change has involved the menu presentation. “When our guests walk in, they view our large menu board on the wall behind the front counter,” said Mark. “It lists all of our food choices, including our special recipes. The problem we had is that, originally, the menu board contained all text and no photos. We found that our customers had a hard time visualizing our burger creations and so ordering was too difficult. We’ve now designed and installed a brand new menu board, complete with color photos of the signature items. It’s bright and very appealing and ordering is much easier.”
To make ordering and overall service even better, Everest Burger has added full table service and free WiFi. Guests can now be seated in the dining room and a server will give them all of the service they need, including explanations of the menu items. “It’s a better experience for the customers and it gives us more opportunity to chat with them and get to know them so we can continue to make them happy. That’s what a neighborhood restaurant should be,” said Mark. “People on the go can still order at the counter and then sit down; the food will be brought to them, ready to eat in the dining room or packaged for takeout.”
Everest Burger’s bakery becomes a central focus
The restaurant has always prided itself on its homemade baked goods. From the beginning, we’ve baked our burger buns from scratch, in-house,” said Margarita. “We started out offering healthy, whole wheat buns that were delicious. But our customers told us they didn’t absorb the burger’s juices as readily as lighter white buns and the burgers were a bit too messy for some. After months of testing, we’ve designed a new, bigger burger bun, made from organic whole wheat white and unbleached flour. We didn’t sacrifice any flavor, though—they’re tastier than before. It’s a very good improvement.” For those who prefer, Everest Burger still offers its sesame, whole wheat, vegan and gluten-free buns. The gluten-free buns are made from rice flour, buckwheat and flaxseed. Margarita tested several recipes before choosing this one.
New Breakfast Service
The bakery is also now the impetus for Everest Burger’s new breakfast service. “Everest Burger, with its free parking, is a convenient stop for breakfast and we’re now offering some hearty breakfast entrees as well as a variety of wonderful pastries that are baked on premises,” said Margarita. All egg dishes are prepared with free-range, organic eggs. The turkey bacon and sausage are hormone-free. Organic flour is used in the pancakes and waffles.
“Together with our fresh juices and our new espresso and cappuccino service—using excellent coffee, I might add—we have become an attractive spot for people who want to get off to a great morning start.” Everest Burger’s breakfast service begins at 8 a.m.
The breakfast menu feature such items as the Breakfast Burrito, warm, flour tortilla filled with beef chorizo, black beans, scrambled eggs and cotija cheese ($7.95); the Everest Waffle, a home-made Belgian waffle with choice of strawberries, bananas or blueberries ($8.95); Blueberry Pancakes, three fluffy buttermilk or gluten-free buckwheat pancakes cooked with fresh blueberries ($9.95); Everest Pancakes, three fluffy buttermilk or gluten-free buckwheat pancakes cooked with shredded carrots, Granny Smith apples and raisins, and served with a side of plain yogurt ($10.95).
Omelette choices include the Nova Lox Omelette, three eggs, lox, onion, tomatoes and cream cheese; Steak Omelette, three eggs, steak, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and sharp cheddar cheese; Everest Omelette, three eggs with a wonderful mix of spinach, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and avocado, and the Mediterranean Omelette, three eggs, roasted sweet bell pepper, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, parsley, fresh garlic, scal¬lions and feta cheese. All omelettes start at $10.95.
The bakery and coffee service are open all day and there are plenty of freshly baked cookies, cupcakes, muffins and brownies to choose from.
The new and improved Everest Burger is just another step for the Challengers as they continue to refine their business and become increasingly involved in their community. “We love this area and we’ve been fortunate to have sponsored some local sports teams and other programs, said Mark. “We hope the community will continue to support us as well and, if they weren’t convinced their first time at Everest Burger, they should come back and give Everest Burger another try. We think they will be very pleased with version 2.0. We want to hear from our guests about what we’re doing right and how we can make our restaurant the place to go for delicious, healthy burgers, great breakfast and much more.”
About Everest Burger
Everest Burger is a better burger restaurant and bakery located at 91 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe, Ill. The restaurant and bakery is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, contact Everest Burger at (847) 242-0909 or online at http://www.everestburger.com.