Hunger for burgers overcomes economic fears

While most U.S. restaurants fight for every dollar, a new crop of indulgent burger chains have bucked the trend by recasting the American food standard with higher-quality ingredients and quirky toppings like fried eggs or pineapple.

The upstart burger joints run the gamut from Five Guys, a 600-unit chain known for its simple menu, fresh ingredients and generous portions, to Bobby’s Burger Palace, Chef Bobby Flay’s small but swanky chain.

They also include Denver-based Smashburger and The Counter from Los Angeles and range from retro-cool to modern.

“There’s an element of fun to burgers,” said Scott Hume, editor of the industry blog, who added that the enduring popularity of the “infinitely changeable” hamburger also springs from its broad appeal.

“Burgers, unlike any other niche in the restaurant business, span generations and span prices,” he said.

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