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This restaurant has a new name, menu, and a whole new vibe. Walk in and you feel the warmth as you think about which great burger, sandwich or salad you’ll have today. You’re in The Burger Bar, adjacent to the Wegmans Food Market in Pittsford Plaza, formerly known as The Food Bar. What will you have to drink? Besides soft drinks, milk, coffee or iced tea, those 21 and over can enjoy wines by the glass or bottle, draft and craft beers, or Spiked Shakes – fun, frosty drinks with a little kick from rum, bourbon, vodka or Kahlua.
Near the end of January, the restaurant closed for three days to refresh its look and menu. When it reopened January 29, it didn’t take customers long to notice the changes. “Even with a snowstorm, our traffic went up in the restaurant – apparently from word of mouth, since we made no announcement at the time,” said Alex Berentzen, director of restaurants.
What’s worth noticing?
The Burger Bar’s new look features earth tones – buttery soft yellows, terracotta, with bright accents like cayenne. “It’s warmer, more approachable and fun,” says Ann Buchau, Wegmans project manager for restaurants. A wooden wine cabinet that the Wegmans Custom Fixture Group made from used wine boxes and a chandelier made with wine glasses give wine a bigger presence than before, and table service on melamine plates with real flatware keeps the mood casual, yet graceful. “Menu chalkboards behind the counter add that casual feel we wanted, and give us more flexibility to offer specials.” (Some popular Food Bar items, like the Lobster Roll, Crabcake and Fish Fry, will return as specials of the day.)
How the burger menu came about
A menu focused on great burgers and sandwiches began taking shape some months ago: “The Food Bar menu centered on seafood, but we also had burger options and saw how popular they were year-round,” says Executive Chef John Steinhoff, who worked on the new Burger Bar menu. “We tried out ideas as daily or weekly specials to test the response from customers and employees.” If an item like the “Maple Onion Bacon Burger” or the “Santa Monica Turkey Burger” got a big thumbs-up, it became a candidate for the Burger Bar menu.
“We looked for a balance between proven favorites like the Hometown Burger or the American Classic and more unusual, creative options like the Bison Burger or the Lamb Gyro Burger. We have three vegetarian burgers as well,” says Executive Chef Dan Caruso, who also worked on the menu.
Sandwich combinations feature full, dinner-size portions, like the Chicken Avocado BLT with herb goddess dressing (6 ounces of chicken); or the Jammin’ Salmon with lemon caper aioli sauce (6 ounces of salmon); or the Pub Steak Sandwich with mushrooms and caramelized onions (6 ounces of sirloin).
Every order for a burger or sandwich includes a side order of Tuscan fries, salad or soup. For an additional $1, the side can be zucchini fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings.
Salad lovers have options too, with entree-sized Baby Kale and Arugula Salad ($7), Grilled Cobb Salad ($7), Caesar Salad ($6) or Mediterranean Salad ($6). Add chicken for $4, salmon for $5, or scallops for $6.
Kids age 12 and under can select from the regular menu or the Kids’ Meals menu, where the $5 entrees for Kid-Size Burgers, Chicken Fingers, Mac & Cheese, Hot Dog or Cheese Quesadilla include a side order, small drink and kiddie size ice cream cone.
“Together, the food and service are an incredible value,” says Berentzen. “The food is made from scratch with ingredients of impeccable quality. The portions are generous. Your meal comes to your table quickly – there’s no buzzer system where you have to get up to retrieve your order. You’re served on real plates with flatware, not disposables. Yet the price for most entrees is about $10, and just $5 for a complete child’s meal. We raised the quality of the whole experience while keeping the price modest.”
By the way, if you’ve never tried Spiked Shakes, says Berentzen, they’re not to be passed up. “Some people have them with the meal, other people have their meal and then order one for dessert.” A fan of them himself, Berentzen’s favorite is the “Pick Me Up” with chocolate ice cream, espresso, Kahlua, whipped cream and coffee. “It’s something special that invites you to relax, yet gives you a lift!”
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is an 84-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 17 consecutive years. In 2014, Wegmans ranked #12 on the list.
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