Across from the Willow Grove Park Mall, a food revolution is going on. It’s called Fast-Casual and the folks at Grub Burger Bar are behind the movement. There, they believe in Good people, Real food, a Unique vibe, and Big flavors (G.R.U.B.). For an afternoon, I joined the resistance to see what was cookin’.
Market Partner Kevin Cross gave me a tour of the restaurant and let me sample some of their most popular fare, which features much more than just burgers and fries. He introduced me to Managing Partner Tom Stevens and some of the engaging staff who define the Good people part of their acronym. They were friendly, engaging, and most of all, made you feel comfortable.
Kevin then outlined Grub Burger Bar’s philosophy of using Real food brought in fresh daily from local farmers. He emphasized that they bake their own buns every few hours. In fact, if any go unused, they bag them up for charity. Customers can come in, leave a donation of their choosing, and walk away with freshly baked Grub Burger Bar buns. The charity of choice is announced on their chalkboard so customers know what local charity will benefit.
The more they get to know their patrons, the more the menu evolves. With the first restaurant originating in College Station, TX., Grub Burger Bar in Willow Grove (along with their locations in Montgomeryville and Wilmington, DE) has modified their menu to cater to Philadelphia foodies, offering local beers such as Philly’s Yuengling, Yard’s Brawler, and Hershey, PA’s Troegs Perpetual IPA at their cozy bar, for instance. Kevin stressed that all their meals are prepared to order. They take pride in their food and believe they offer the best tasting menu and the best place to experience it at for the best price.
I took a moment to let the environment sink in. As he described their philosophy further, it dawned on me that this place truly did offer a unique vibe. I could see a resemblance to Shake Shack or Chipotle, but it was much more. They employed servers who brought food to customers dining in. The bar was a real bar with TVs and tenders, stools all the way ‘round, and stocked with bottled and draught beer, wine, and liquor. The décor was modern yet industrial with a very southern appeal. Song lyrics on mounted canvas hung from the walls. Industrial rebar chandeliers designed specifically for Grub Burger Bar hung from the ceiling. The food and the service were fast, but the dining experience was casual and much more civilized. As they say now-a-days, “Revolutionary.”
The last wave of battle arrived, the Big flavors. I was presented with an array of appetizers, salads, bowls, burgers, and shakes. The Ahi Tuna and the Brussels Sprouts appetizers are quite an amazing way to start off. Their Texas Luau burger is going to be featured in the upcoming, “Super Bowl Live ‘Burger Throw Down’” in Houston, TX. The Lockheart Legend burger and the Guacapotle™ burger were my personal favorites. But if you are feeling a bit adventurous, their Thai Peanut burger will not disappoint. I was hesitant, but with anything revolutionary, you must be willing and open to change. I was pleasantly surprised! For the more health-conscious diners, their California Chicken Bowl, or the Jive Turkey or Hippie Chickpea burgers were fantastic. I let Kevin know they did not taste healthy and that was a good thing! Finally, they brought out samples of their Kitchen Sink and Bourbon & Caramel shakes. The Kitchen Sink was a perfect mixture of sweet and savory, topped with whipped cream, a Ruffles potato chip, and a salted pretzel stick for a stirrer. The Bourbon & Caramel shake is dangerously good. It’s not your Grandma’s shake. Now, dad’s have an excuse to take the kids out for shakes after soccer games.
After fighting the good fight, there was barely enough room to breathe. I was thoroughly convinced that Grub Burger Bar stood for Good people, Real food, a Unique vibe, and Big flavors. I asked Kevin what might we see from Grub in the future. He said they are working on a food truck that will canvas the entire Philadelphia area, hopefully, this Spring. He is constantly reaching out to the community and working with various local charities. They plan to grow their catering and event business and are always looking for innovative ways to utilize their exciting menu and personable staff. Grub Burger Bar and the Fast-Casual movement is spreading, and I am happy to join the fight. I encourage you to join as well.