“Not Another 5 Guys”: PYT’s Crazy, Insane & Wonderful Burgers Are Making Their Way to D.C.
Over the past several years, the Washington, D.C.-area burger scene has exploded. Now this isn’t news, as we’ve been documenting D.C.’s hot beef injection right here on Burger Days all along. But while seemingly every other month we get word of another joint with plans for the area, up until now it’s usually been more of the same.
Now, don’t take that the wrong way– we’re not complaining. The more burger options, the better. But the influx of fast-casual joints like Smashburger and Elevation Burger –so-called “better burger” purveyors– leaves us longing for something different. Something more. Something better.
Word dropped in February that the insane (but totally in a good way) burger inventors in Philly were going to expand and that D.C. was part of their plan. For those unfamiliar with Tommy Up‘s joint in the City of Brotherly Love, this is the place that made a deep-fried PBR burger. Yup– DEEP-FRIED HIPSTER JUICE. On a burger. They’re also the creators of the deep-fried Elio’s pizza burger (Elio’s pizzas, fried and used as buns, natch), the deep-fried Twinkie burger (same idea) and a lasagna-bunned burger (also deep-fried). Sensing a trend?
Eager to get the scoop on their plans to clog the District’s collective arteries, Burger Days chatted with Fransmart CEO Dan Rowe, head of the company in charge of PYT’s nationwide expansion.
“I don’t think the world needs another Five Guys,” says Rowe, which is ironic, considering Fransmart is responsible for launching the D.C. burger joint’s explosion across the country. But what Rowe wants to bring to D.C. (and New York and beyond) is a burger bar, a full-service restaurant where people go to drink just as much as they go to eat.
“Nobody has really built a great neighborhood burger bar,” Rowe tells us. “What’s cool about the concept is that it’s not a chain. It’s this hipster, cool place,” he says. Rowe compares it to Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown. “It’s more of an artisan approach– very cheffy and foodie.” (Nothing screams cheffy to us like deep-fried PBR. Seriously, we need more chefs like that.)
Rowe was first alerted to PYT after a guy in his company sent him an email about the restaurant’s appearance on a Food Network show, but it wasn’t until the joint unveiled their Hostess-bunned burger that he decided to check it out. “All of a sudden, they got a lot of attention around a burger that used a Twinkie as a bun and it was enough to get me to go look at it.” To Rowe, however, that look quickly turned to love as soon as he sat down to eat. “Once they started bringing out the food, I was hooked,” he raves. “I travel around the country and we’ve sold thousands of restaurants and I’ve never seen anything this good. Ever.” Rowe says PYT’s sides (which include chicken waffle sliders, a bacon cheeseburger quesadilla and something called the PYT Pu Pu Party Platter) are outstanding and their adult milkshakes are the best he’s ever had.
For those who might balk at downing a burger sandwiched by two pieces of fried lasagna, the regular PYT menu is
much tamer. “The signature items, the over-the-top-burger concoctions are the ones that make all the noise but there is also a very mainstream burger and chicken sandwich menu,” Rowe says. (BTW, that “mainstream” menu includes a burger with chocolate-covered bacon served on a glazed donut. Oh, hell yes.) And, for the carb-cutting or gluten-intolerant crowd, forget those terrible burger bowls, PYT claims to be the only joint in the world offering bacon bun substitutes for their burgers. See? They can do healthy, too.
PYT will start off with one D.C. location, Rowe says, and then look to expand after establishing themselves. “We’re going to grow at a pace that allows us to build a really good team with people who can grow with the concept and not turn it into just another chain.” And while Fransmart is a franchising company, Rowe tells us the D.C. stores will be corporate and, because of that, all the concepts will be on the same system and use the same menu. So that means when the Philly location busts out a burger with stromboli buns and a deep-fried Jägermeister garnish, it’ll be available right here in D.C., too.
Fransmart and PYT are “hot and actively looking” for locations that already have an established regular lunch and dinner crowd. “We not going to be going to business districts or the extreme suburbs,” Rowe says. “We’re looking at Barrack’s Row. We’re looking at Capitol Hill. We’re looking over by AU. We’re looking at Georgetown, obviously. Those are the kind of areas we want. We want to be in places that are very busy every day of the year.”
Rowe thinks PYT D.C. could open at either the end of this year or the beginning of next. “As as soon as we find a spot, it’s just the normal time it takes to get built,” he says.
We can’t wait.