It’s in with cheeseburgers and out with ramen, as Newington-based GoldBurgers will take the place of Bob Ramen at 399 Capitol Ave. in Hartford on June 13.
The new restaurant, to be called GoldBurgers on Capitol, is a partnership between GoldBurgers’ Matt Crowley and Tim Marotto and Patrick Miceli and Chris Parrott, the co-owners of the former ramen shop and cocktail bar Little River Restoratives.
Bob Ramen, which opened in December, served a small menu of Japanese noodle soups, steamed buns, gyoza and other Asian-inspired items. The restaurant closed after its final dinner service on Saturday, Miceli said, and the team immediately began preparing to revamp the space into GoldBurgers.
The idea came about after Crowley and Marotto hosted a GoldBurgers pop-up event at Little River Restoratives in early May, the partners said. “Seeing the food companionable with the drinks, that turned the bulb on,” Parrott said, and they began discussing the opportunity.
Crowley and Marotto are currently working to open 5 and Dime, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant, next door to GoldBurgers at 1100 Main St. in Newington. The restaurant is projected to open in September.
"We honestly weren’t looking to do much" beyond the new Newington project, Marotto said, but the soon-to-be partners clicked, and they saw the possibility for the burger joint to expand to the capital city. “We’re hoping to take what we’ve built in Newington…it’ll be nice to put our identity on Hartford."
GoldBurgers on Capitol’s menu will start off slightly smaller than its counterpart, with a handful of burgers and hot dogs, and sides of fries, pickles and housemade onion rings. The menu features the signature GoldBurger, with lettuce, onion, pickles, American cheese, chips and Goldburger sauce, and its bacon, egg and cheeseburger, along with a housemade veggie burger and others with chili, onion rings and spicy BBQ sauce. Guests can also build their own burgers with a variety of toppings. Burger prices range from $6 to $11 (with double patties.)
Hot dogs are $3 to $5, with assorted toppings: ketchup and mustard, chopped onion, chili, cheese sauce, bacon and farm egg. Sides are $3 to $8. GoldBurgers on Capitol will also offer beer and wine at the 30-seat space.
“We’ll start off with a small core menu, and slowly work things in,” Marotto said, with the potential for daily specials.
"One of the most seductive parts of partnering with GoldBurgers; they service the market in a much more immediate and obvious way," Parrott said. “There’s no identity issues or problems there. Everyone has an emotional attachment to cheeseburgers. With ramen, we can’t say people were clamoring for it, but we thought it would work because it would be kitschy and hip. To an extent, it did, but I think GoldBurgers hits the ground running, and people want that.”
Parrott said the Bob Ramen brand is "on hiatus," to be reconceived as one or more food trucks to operate in fall and winter. “This is an opportunity for us to repurpose the brand of ramen in a more efficient way that better serves people and is easier to operate.”
Parrott and Miceli had also transformed Miceli’s 50 West in Plainville into another Bob Ramen outpost in January, offering a larger menu and a full bar with Asian-inspired cocktails. After five months, they opted to bring back the original name and concept, reopening the space as 50 West after Memorial Day weekend.
“I think people missed it; I think I truly missed it,” Miceli said. “It was an opportunity to do a hard reset and put the place there I always wanted.”
The new 50 West menu has lower price points, Miceli said, as a way to make it more approachable and less of a special-occasion-only sort of destination.
“We took the things that worked at Bob Ramen, that laid-back rock-and-roll vibe, and kept that and incorporated it into the new 50 West,” he said, mentioning a new tiki-drink menu and an enhanced happy hour. “I’m rejuvenated, thrilled to be back.”
“We were developing a pretty good, die-hard, loyal fanbase for ramen out there against all odds,” Parrott said. “There was a lot of concern for missing the service 50 West offered. The return has been very rewarding.”
Little River Restoratives will also introduce an updated food and cocktail menu soon, Parrott said. As GoldBurgers settles in, the plan is to offer a takeout option where guests at the cocktail bar can order food to have delivered to their tables next door.
"I think this is what Hartford needed,” Marotto said. “I honestly think people will turn 'burger and a shot' into a staple before they go home [for the day]."
GoldBurgers on Capitol will open at 399 Capitol Ave., Hartford, at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Follow facebook.com/goldburgersoncapitol for updated hours and menus.