Thursday, March 15, 2012 / 1:00 PM
While some locals think St. Louis already has enough burger joints, others (like us) are excited to see Chef Steve Gontram’s long-awaited burger concept finally reach the “Coming Soon” stage.
The location forFIve Star Burgers St. Louis will be 8125 Maryland in Clayton, in the same stretch as Companion Café, Half & Half, and Almonds Restaurant. There will be seating for 80, plus another 20 on the brick patio out front.
Alert Relish readers will remember the name "Blue Ribbon Burgers" as being Gontram’s original name of choice, but due to difficulties trademarking that name, he settled on a moniker a little closer to home, so to speak. Steve’s father, Bob Gontram, is currently developing Five Star Burgers in New Mexico, and the St. Louis location “will be modeled after his,” said the younger Gontram, adding that St. Louis will see some “personal touches to an already great concept.”
Last year, Five Star Burgers New Mexico was named one of the "50 Best Burgers in the U.S." by USA Today. Bob Gontram is in the process of building his third store in Santa Fe.
Steve Gontram explains that although his father’s concept has a New Mexican feel, Five Star Burgers St. Louis will be more "Midwestern,” the main difference being sourcing regional Black Angus beef that is certified grass fed, hormone-free, all-natural, yet has been grain/corn finished. Gontram explains this as the best of both worlds, combining “the natural, healthy, and environmentally friendly aspect of grass feeding with the flavor and marbling of grain feeding."
As ground beef is the cornerstone of his business, Gontram spent months researching sourcing options. He explained his concern with the lack of available consumer information and that “99% of the time, no one knows where meat comes from, or what quality it is.” Gontram settled on a producer that will, for the time being remain nameless. "This is precisely what will set us apart," he explained. "We'll be the first in the market to use this supplier. It's not information that I want to just give away." (As a side note, “and one I'll be happily sharing with my customers,“ Gontram noted, “Dr. Temple Grandin was given a blank check to design the slaughterhouse as to ensure as humane a final few hours for the cattle they kill.)
The challenge for Gontram (and any burger joint touting a quality product) is how to sell at a reasonable price and still make a buck. He reminds us that while a burger of Five Star’s quality will set you back $10-$15 locally, he plans to sell a cheeseburger with all the trimmings “in the $7 range.”
This will not be a scrawny, quarter-pounder, mind you. Five Star’s burgers will be eight-ouncers: fresh-ground, hand-pattied, and cooked to temperature.
Other accoutrements will be artisan sandwiches, fresh salads, high-quality milkshakes, and a full bar, according to Gontram. An underlying goal will be “to provide the finest quality products in the Midwest region.” All this, plus table service.
Gontram tells Relish that Five Star plans “to have the finest quality hamburgers at the best value price point in any market we enter.” Sounded like a mission statement to me. One that all of St. Louis can--and should--be really excited about.
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