After Burger King left the Commons on North Campus, students didn't have to wait long to go without a burger fix in the plaza. And now, the meat isn't preprocessed or taken straight out of a freezer.
The owners of Rachel's Mediterranean, another Commons restaurant, opened Three Brothers Burgers last week in an effort to expand their family-run business. And, so far, "business has been good…promising, to say the least," according to owner/operator Joe Khoury, who runs the restaurants with the help of brothers Gene and David – hence the name.
The privately owned Commons' management approached Khoury and his family when it became clear that Burger King would not renew its lease. At first, the idea was to move Rachel's up front to Burger King's better location, as a reward for the Mediterranean restaurant's success. But Khoury saw another opportunity.
"Why fix something that's not broken? If we can perfect the Mediterranean aspect [of] business, we can offer a really nice and fresh burger place," Khoury said. "So I had an idea to take both, because if it wasn't me, somebody else was going to go there, and I didn't look at it as competing with ourselves.
"I looked at it as expanding because the university is only growing, and we'd love to grow with it, and we appreciate all the hard-working students' business."
At Three Brothers Burgers, you'll have to pay more than you did at Burger King, with a regular hamburger starting at $4.49 (add 50 cents for cheese). But the extra money buys a better-prepared sandwich, the owner said.
"A fresh burger, never frozen, something [customers] see us making it right in front of them," Khoury said. "Fresh fries, fresh burgers, fresh grilled chicken sandwiches."
He added that the staff implemented "expertise" in marinating meat, learned while preparing more complicated dishes at Rachel's.
Three Brothers' menu showcases what Khoury called "all-American" cuisine: burgers, hot dogs, sausages, fries, and the like. Different breeds of burger include barbecue, bacon, veggie, turkey, and sausage. Patrons also can order chicken, steak, mushroom, and fish sandwiches, along with sides like chicken strips, onion rings, pizza logs, mozzarella sticks, and fried mushrooms and cauliflower.
"There was a missing piece in the Commons," Khoury said. "You have pizza, you have almost every ethnic dish…how could we forget about our cuisine – the American dish?"
Khoury's family is Lebanese-American, so it's fitting that Rachel's highlights one part of his heritage, and Three Brothers Burgers highlights the other. The brothers also own another Rachel's restaurant on Main Street in Williamsville.
* * * * * *
I visited Three Brothers Burgers and ordered a regular old cheeseburger and fries. I didn't realize that the burgers are made to order, so it was nice to hear the clerk ask me what I wanted on it – ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle. I didn't have to wait long before it was ready. On the ‘rare' to ‘well-done' scale, it was right in the middle – a square ‘medium.'
The most important part? It was pretty darn good, much better (not to mention healthier) than a Whopper. Not mind-blowing, but pretty darn good, as far as burgers go. And the fries were even better – crispy and salty enough to keep you mindlessly munching 'til they're gone.
I plan on returning to Three Brothers Burgers, to keep things fresh in between regular Spectrum Rachel's runs. When I do, who knows? The Khoury family might own the whole plaza.