When 312DD dropped the bomb that Tru was converting its pastry kitchen into a standalone burger concept, we were a little skeptical — it’s about on par with an announcement that Grant Achatz is opening a takeout taco place in Alinea’s downstairs dining room (which, to be fair, would be awesome — Grant, let’s talk). But it turns out the rumors are true: Dish confirms that Rich Melman and the LEYE team are slicing up the Tru kitchen to put in M Burger (named for the way Fronsh chef Jean Joho pronounces “hamburger.” Adorbs, non?), a low-priced, counter-service place which will have its own entrance on Huron Street. Is this a good thing?
Well yes, it’s good in the sense that burgers are in general good, and in the sense that Lettuce Entertain You has yet to put its imprimatur on a burger-centric restaurant, something we’re mildly curious to see. While our kneejerk reaction would be to call LEYE on being a few months late to the trend, it appears that M Burger has been in the works for a few years now, at least in concept: the trademark was filed back in 2007, and has been extended a few times.
What we are theorizing, however, is that the location was not always going to require preying on the resources of a LEYE flagship. In 2007, we were still safely coddled in a pre-recession bubble, and Tru’s reservation book was far more popular than it has been in recent months. So it seems plausible that M Burger’s encroachment on their space indicates a shift in priorities for the LEYE team, who might be catching wind of the overwhelming dominance of haute-low on the culinary scene, want to get it out there as soon as possible, and figure that cutting space out of a high-overhead, moderately-performing restaurant is easier on the bottom line than scouting a new spot and starting from zero. Is this the beginning of the end for Tru?
We could be totally wrong, of course, and it’s just that Tru exec chef Anthony Martin has always cherished a dream of one day sharing his kitchen with a burger joint. Right?
Tru Story [Dish]