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Flippin’ Burgers redefines soul food

When entrepreneur Rob Taranto moved to Summit County a short time ago, he couldn’t find a really good burger.

He’d occasionally get the craving for American soul food, and except for Wendy’s or a hamburger for kids at an upscale restaurant, there was nowhere to go in Park City.

That’s when the idea for Flippin’ Burgers off Kearns Avenue came to him, but it was still some time before he opened his shop. At every one of his kid’s city recreation games, he asked all the parents on the sidelines what they wanted in a really good burger.

Taranto wasn’t interested in opening a "joint," he wanted his products to be culinary masterpieces made of only the finest local products.

"My price points are my best advertising," he said of his menu, where a single hamburger starts at $4.89. "We’re not Burger King, but we’re also not a sit-down restaurant that charges more for less quality."

Flippin’ Burgers is a sit-down restaurant but not with waiters where kids need to keep their voices down. After looking around the community, Taranto knew he didn’t want what he called a "cattle line." At the same time, his biggest restaurant pet peeve is grime. He wanted a family restaurant that was clean, with a lot of outside seating.

Taranto doesn’t do lip-service to quality, he shopped around. Wasatch Meats in Salt Lake City delivers half-pound patties of Angus beef and chicken breasts several times a week which are stored in coolers, not freezers.

Stone Ground Bakery delivers buns daily and as much produce as can be is bought locally.

"Our cheese is no small 5-cent slice," he said.

But Flippin’ Burgers’ commitment is most evident in its fries. Fast food franchises use the freeze-dried kind, which makes them crunchy. In-and-Out Burger is famous for slicing and cooking fries as you watch, but the fries are mushy and sometimes tasteless.

Flippin’ Burgers’ process, implemented by general manager James "Red" Davis, is a 12-hour process from an Idaho Potato in a box, to a hot and crunchy fry that tastes like it should.

After a box of potatoes arrives from Idaho, the contents are washed, scrubbed and then cut into fries. Davis then dumps the raw fries into a large tub filled with ice water and sits it in the freezer overnight. This seals in the starch, and the taste, he said.

In the morning, his staff blanches the fries in hot oil for three or four minutes, sealing in the juices the way searing a steak does, Taranto said.

When a customer orders them, the already blanched fries are cooked again to crispness achieving a fresh, but also crunchy fry.

Taranto is sensitive to health-conscious Parkites, and uses only no-trans fat oil which is filtered twice a day and only used for the day.

Davis said he loves what he does.

A few months ago he was dying to get out of Atlanta, Georgia. One day Taranto called him while he was sitting in traffic and invited him to help open a restaurant in Park City. Davis is not only excited to be living here, but also to be giving something unique to the community.

"There’s nothing like it around," he said.

Straying as far from fast food as possible, there are no combo meals at Flippin’ Burger. Each customer builds his or her own meal the way they want it and it isn’t cooked or prepared until ordered.

"You can build it as vegetarian, or with no bun," Davis said.

Taranto said he’s noticed that families in Park City are starting to get sticker shock at Main Street restaurant prices as the economy slumps and prices go up. He wants people to know that "eating down" doesn’t have to mean low quality.

"We don’t serve fast food, we serve fresh food fast. We stick to our laurels on that one," he said.

Taranto said he understands that some people aren’t expecting burgers to start at $4.89, but for angus beef and all fresh materials, it’s a real "gut-buster" for the money.

Some moms prefer chicken salads, he said. Unlike his competition, Flippin’ Burgers grills and slices the chicken when ordered.

The chili is homemade with angus beef. The coleslaw is hand-made southern style.

"In the evenings we see a lot of families with little kids. We’re big enough that they can push tables together for groups of 20," said assistant manager Dan Morken.

With kids in mind, Flippin’ Burgers also sells ice cream malts and shakes. The cones are a brand called "Flavor Burst" in which the soft-serve machine puts the flavoring on the outside making colored-spirals of flavor.

"I sold 12 ice cream cones today," Davis said with eyes wide.

Taranto said he’s had customers tell him their burgers weren’t just good, but the best they ever had.

"That’s what I want to hear," he said.

Flippin’ Burgers

1300 Snow Creek Drive, Suite RS

655-1757


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