Shula Burger Opens in Fort Lauderdale

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If ever there were an iconic south Florida name, Shula would be it.The football legend is famous not just for his coaching skills, but his namesake high-end steakhouses, to boot. Now there's a new concept for the Shula brand, in what's often called the "better burger market." This niche includes  restaurants that offer counter service and quick eats, but with more high-end ingredients and at a higher price point than McDonald's or Wendy's. 

Yesterday marked the grand opening of the flagship Shula Burger on Fort Lauderdale's 17th Street Causeway. We got the inside scoop from Shula heir and President of Shula Steakhouses himself, Dave Shula.

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As is so happens with sports, any great season is celebrated for years to come. Forty years ago, the Miami Dolphins had their perfect season--they were undefeated 17-0. What better way to celebrate than by opening up a burger joint? And the symbolism is rife. To honor the Dolphins, Shula burger decided to open on 17th Street, on October 17 of the fortieth anniversary of the 17-0 season.

Photo by Sara Ventiera

 The menu includes signature burgers made of Angus beef and brisket that are never frozen. A "Wine Country" burger has goat cheese and roasted peppers and costs $8.99; a "French Onion" burger has sauteed onions and gruyere cheese and clocks in at the same price. Shula Burger also serves appetizers, salads, and chicken, turkey, or veggie burgers. Beer and wine are available. Wines by the glass are served from a Wine Station--a machine that keeps wine in an optimal environment to keep it from spoiling.

According to Shula Burger's director of marketing Carrie LaNoce, opening day yesterday "was fantastic. We were jam-packed for two and a half hours. All of the staff were really excited."

Two other Shula Burgers are already slated to open within the next year: Kendall, in early December, and another on Delray Beach's Atlantic Avenue, early next year. The overall goal is to follow the lead of Shula steakhouses by starting with the company's South Florida base and growing into national chains from there.

We spoke with Dave Shula about his plans. He said, "This is our sixth concept; which now takes us from the entry-level restaurant market going all the way up to the white-table cloth, high-end concept of Shula's on the Beach. This made sense as a way to expand our footprint."

The first Shula's steakhouse opened for business in 1989 and the company has been specializing in beef ever since, says Shula. "We've been taking our lessons there [Shula's Steakhouses] with quality, great service for over 20 years. The better burger market is a natural transition for us. Shula Burger serves the same choice Angus beef blend that was developed by our chef at the steakhouse. We built Shula Burger around that product. The only difference is the size: a third of a pound, compared to an eight-ounce burger."

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