After being under wraps on Grand River nearly all winter, Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern is officially open for business.
The long-awaited restaurant and bar, located just south of Main Street in downtown Brighton, has been busy since its grand opening on Sunday, according to Manager Tom Hollinshead.
"It's been outstanding, unbelievable," Hollinshead gushed during Wednesday's lunch rush. "It's been nonstop."
Bagger Dave's started out in Berkley and quickly attracted lines out the door and a cult following. Brighton marks its fourth site, including Ann Arbor and Novi, and franchises are available in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The company describes itself as "a modern interpretation of the old-fashioned neighborhood bar where the burgers taste like nowhere else."
The restaurant also strives to be family friendly, with an electric train, hand-dipped shakes and a $3.99 kids menu with half-off kids meals every Sunday.
Burgers are at the heart of this joint's menu, and the top choice so far in Brighton is the Train Wreck, Hollinshead said.
"Throw on everything, including the kitchen sink," he said, describing how the burger ($7.59) is built: Two beef patties are topped with french fries, a fried egg, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions and mushrooms, lettuce and Bagger Dave's Railhouse Burger Sauce.
Or, "create your own legend" by grabbing a pencil and filling out one of the forms that stand ready at every table. First check the box next to beef, turkey or veggie black bean patties, and then choose from cheeses, sauces and more than 30 toppings, including the aforementioned french fries and fried egg, along with jalapenos, applewood bacon, guacamole, turkey black bean chili and more.
"People get crazy," Hollinshead said. "They come up with the wildest combinations."
Other menu highlights are Sloppy Dave's fries (also customizable), sweet potato chips with sea salt, turkey black bean chili, salads and a selection of down-home sandwiches like tuna melts, BLTs and fried egg on sourdough with cheddar, bacon and mayo, ($4.99).
Ice cream shakes, root beer floats and banana splits put a traditional finish on the burger experience.
The concept emphasizes Michigan products, and the full-service bar has a wide variety of Michigan craft beer in bottles and on tap.
Hollinshead said Bagger Dave's worked with the Brighton Area Historical Society to decorate the restaurant with photos of Brighton's past.
Behind Bagger Dave's
“Our fourth Bagger Dave’s restaurant is strategically located in the lively Brighton entertainment district, in the center of a family-oriented community," Michael Ansley, company president and CEO, said in a press release announcing the grand opening.
"Our three existing Bagger Dave’s locations have been hugely successful and continue to exceed our expectations," Ansley said. "Brighton is our next step in the plan to open a minimum of 24 Bagger Dave’s locations over the next six years, either corporately owned or franchised.”