Don Shula's new concept tackles burgers

Football legend Don Shula is taking on the crowded burger category with the launch of a fast-casual dining concept called Shula Burger, the company said Tuesday.

Shula, who has been described as “the winningest coach in National Football League history,” founded Shula’s Steak Houses LLP, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which franchises 32 full-service restaurants across 16 states and includes three brands: Shula’s Steak House, Shula’s 347 Grill, and Shula’s 2 Steak & Sports.

The new Shula Burger also is being developed as a franchise concept with territories now available in Florida. The first unit is expected to open in June by a franchisee in Islamadora in the South Florida keys, said Bill Herman, president of Shula Burger.

Company officials said they expect to have more than 100 locations under development within five years.

Herman said the company plans to open at least one or possibly two corporate locations — a first for Shula’s company. “We’re looking in Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties,” Herman said.

Though the fast-casual burger segment has grown increasingly crowded, Herman said the new Shula Burger brand will be more upscale than most, with guests ordering at the counter and food delivered to the table.

“We’re not a startup. We’re a successful restaurant company,” he said. “We have a name, the Shula name. And we know beef.”

Herman said the six-ounce Shula Burgers will be made with a blend of Black Angus beef chuck, short rib and brisket.

Guests can select from a variety of signature burgers, such as a “wine country” version with roasted peppers, goat cheese, balsamic greens, and roasted tomatoes, for $7.95; or build their own with a wide selection of cheeses, spreads and toppings.

The “coach’s favorite,” called “The Don,” features a burger and a hot dog on a brioche roll with pickles, onion sauce, American cheese, ketchup and yellow mustard for $10.95.

The menu also will feature grilled chicken, salads and veggie burgers, as well as beer, wine and milkshakes. Herman said the average check will be about $10 at lunch and $12 at dinner, although sales are expected to be lunch heavy.

Units will range from 2,000-square-feet to 2,500-square feet with seating for about 60 inside and 20 to 40 outside, where possible. Herman said build-out costs will range between $400,000 and $500,000, including initial franchising fees.

Herman said economic challenges motivated a move into the fast-casual space.

“When the economy crashed, full-service dining took it on the chin,” he said. “This move diversifies our company and puts us in fast-casual for the first time, rather than only being in more upscale fine dining.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [3].