Hamlet dusts off ‘Hamburger Hamlet’ for new concept

LOS ANGELES The Hamlet Restaurant Group is planning to introduce this spring a fast-casual burger concept named for the casual-dining chain’s original restaurant: Hamburger Hamlet.

The first Hamburger Hamlet was a 58-year-old thespian-theme upscale burger concept founded in Los Angeles by actor Harry Lewis and his wife. The business was later sold to Prandium Inc., which eventually filed for bankruptcy. In 2004, the then-12-unit chain was bought by businessman Andrew Tavakoli for $10 million.

Tavakoli repositioned the brand as a more upscale casual-dining venue, remodeling units, overhauling the menu and changing each restaurant’s name to Hamlet, followed by the location. The unit in West Los Angeles, for instance, is now the Hamlet West L.A., and the store in Pasadena is the Hamlet Pasadena.

The fast-casual Hamburger Hamlet variant is a potential franchise growth vehicle, Tavakoli said. The 2,000-square-foot prototype is scheduled to open in Los Angeles within a few months, with a burger-centric menu that also features soups and salads.

The Hamlet Restaurant Group also has taken steps to begin franchising Hamlet restaurants both in the United States and overseas.