Wednesday, June 12, 2013

YOU CAN'T HAS CHEEZBURGER: Exit Stage Burger Lounge

When it opened on Skid Row early last year, The Stage Burger Lounge had plenty of promise. With the Fillmore having recently opened down the block, a place nearby where one could grab a quick bite before a concert (or a movie across the street at the AFI) certainly had potential. However, after subsequent changes in ownership and format, the Lounge now seems to have been shuttered for good.

I personally hadn't been in quite some time, but the transformation that apparently occurred since my last visit seems bizarre, to say the least. What started as a limited-service burger joint in the same vein as Five Guys transformed over the course of a year to a table-service restaurant with a full bar. According to one Yelp! review, they would even at times have a dance floor and a bouncer standing guard outside. I don't know what precipitated these changes, but clearly the strategy shift doesn't appear to have proved particularly effective.

While the restaurant closed down only recently, their online presence faded away some time ago, with a defunct Facebook page and a website that has been down for some time. Their Twitter feed has been silent since July. Neglecting these things is probably not the best marketing strategy in this day and age.

So why not just open a Five Guys in the same spot? From what I can tell, it'd be like printing money. Their burgers aren't all that great, but they seem to be available everywhere in North America outside of downtown Silver Spring. Five Guys even seems to thrive out on the west coast, a place where people have the option to go to the In-n-Out. Why no one has yet franchised one here is beyond me. A BGR would be even better than Five Guys.

Unrelated, but I have to give some credit to Piratz Tavern, which is still open in spite of many dire predictions made following their disastrous appearance on Bar Rescue last year.


Anonymous said...

I heard thru the grapevine that the original owner, who had the limited-service stuff and did it fairly well, ran afoul of regulations and how the previous place (the rotisserie chicken joint) didn't update their permits or file proper paperwork; as far as the county was concerned, the place was still a hair salon even though it had been a restaurant in some form for several years. Reportedly he threw up his hands in disgust at the mess he'd taken on and sold off to an interested party, who did big renovation but then seems to have mismanaged the place. Too bad, I liked it when it first opened, but wasn't crazy about the renovation.

Sligo said...

Everything in Silver Spring has been or will be a hair salon at some point.

Anonymous said...

What a shock. I'm sure it'll be back to a hair salon again.

Also: no props to Piratz. The fact that that hellhole survives while ANYTHING else closes is a failure of Silver Spring as a community.

Anonymous said...

Never went to Stage. Why would I when QH and Rays are two of the best burgers in the region?

KRupe said...

Actually, everything in Silver Spring has either been or will be a wig shop.

Libby said...

Now if Shake Shack opened it its spot, I'd be there every week! I love their 'Shroom burger, which really isn't a burger at all!

Anonymous said...

Five Guys is aiming waaaaaaay too low. If it has to be another burger place (which is very much not needed in DTSS, anyway, so hopefully we see a different store/restaurant in the spot), then a Ray's Hell Burger or Shake Shake would be good additions. Some ubiquitous, low-end chain like 5 Guys would be beyond depressing.

Anonymous said...

Um, does anyone notice that when they say "QHT or Ray's" they are talking about places where you have to sit down and eat the burger there?

We do need a good takeout burger joint. And yes, Five Guys is FAR better than Fuddruckers.

Honestly, the anti-five guys snobbery is just odd. They compete really well with "higher end" burger chains taste wise.

Unknown said...

An Elevation Burger would be awesome...

Gull said...

Almost none of these 'chain' burger places would probably consider that strip. Retailers and restaurants like to cluster next to other establishments that depend on/attract a similar clientele because it greatly increases visibility. A place like 5 guys or elevation burger would want to be along Ellsworth Drive, or maybe in the retail planned for the bottom of Library Residential, or the redevelopment of the church across from Whole Foods/Library. If not there, those places would go to the Blairs/Giant center. The strip along Colesville has no identity, little foot traffic except during AFI events and is not that attractive. It's good for unique places like the Thai and Tapas places that don't fit a mold and don't all go after the same tennage/20something demographic.

The other problem is parking. I live in DT SS, and I walk everywhere, but plenty of people who visit here are parking in one of the two main garages that serve the Ellsworth Drive area. Granted it's not far to walk to the Colesville Rd corridor, but it's far enough to discourage my suburbanites, including my parents who complained the whole walk when I took them to Tapas the other weekend. They don't complain when we walked to Nando's, or to Adega Wine cellars. Maybe it's perception, or actual distance, but I doubt they are alone in not thinking Colesville Rd has enough close parking, especially when we're talking about chain burger places that also have locations in suburban parking lot oriented strip centers.

Anonymous said...

"the anti-five guys snobbery is just odd"

I'd be fine with five guys replacing one of the similarly junky options on Ellsworth. As for everywhere else in DTSS, yes, I think most of us have a higher standard/hope to see something of the same quality and/or uniqueness of the rest of the block (Ray's, La Malinche, Abol, Kao Thai, and Da Marco). A 5 Guys sticks out like a sore thumb. Even sticking them in the empty space next to Flippin Pizza would make a lot more sense.

Anonymous said...

Have you so called burger lovers ever tried Adeiga's?

5 Guys/Fudruckers make sure you say:"Well done and hold the grease".

Adam said...

There's already good places to get a burger in the surrounding area (Ray's and Quarry House, as mentioned); what I'd like to see is a good cheesesteak place. Maybe Taylor Steak & Ice could expand, for instance.

hockeypunk said...

That's a shame, I just went for the first time a month or so ago and found it delicious. And having a Dale's Pale Ale on the side didn't hurt either. Was going to go last week but saw that it was closed. O well, guess I'll have to get my burgers somewhere else

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see them go, best burger in the area imho (the meat was perfectly seasoned everytime I went there). I find Ray's burgers to be nothing special and QH makes me sick every time I eat there. But I think the writing was on the wall for a while. I remember how they never really seemed to have soda for their soda fountain and always pushed cans or bottles.

Anonymous said...

I don't think either Rays or QH are open for lunch. That's a bummer for me, cause I rarely want burgers for dinner. At least I could get a lunch burger at Stage Burger (or, I was supposed to, but they were bizarrely closed when I went there).

Anonymous said...

Too bad. They had a great BBQ sandwich. Amazing that this block is called skid row. Shows how the scale of Colesville kills it as a good pedestrian block. Add a tree median and on street parking and maybe, but it will never happen.

Anonymous said...

I went once when it first opened. The burger was fine but it seemed a bit expensive for a burger and fries. I'm reaching for a pretty broad brush here, but I think that many of the people in SS are cheapskates like me who live in SS because of affordability. I'm not spending a full restaurant meal price for a burger, especially with many, more interesting options in the area.

I do wonder if they just put a "normal" bar in there if they couldn't do well just with concert spillover. McGinty's and QH do seemingly killer business and have minimal theming. Keep the flair and give me a reasonably priced draft.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:57: Colesville does have on-street parking, just not during rush hour.

Anonymous said...

The Quarry House burgers used to be the best.

Since the place changed hands, the food has totally gone down the tubes.

The service totally sucks too.

I'm not sure anymore which is worse, the food or the service.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of all of their food but the burger at the new place Scion over on East West is very good. And they have a great selection of beer.

Anonymous said...

I like 8407's burgers and Copper Canyon's aren't bad either. Still usually go with QH's, though. YUM.

Anonymous said...

"5 Guys/Fudruckers make sure you say:"Well done and hold the grease"."

Hold the grease? you might as well say hold the meat. The grease is what makes the burger. Thats like ordering a pizza and saying "hold the cheese".

Btw, as someone pointed out(well many people) Ray's and Quarry House are ok...just that ok. Nothing wow. But more importantly they arent open during the day. There is no where to get a quick delcious burger at 1230 lunch time. Btw, McDonalds is not a burger place. Thats well....a place you go to get mugged and skeeved out. and crappy burgers.

Though someone here did say a Shake Shack...that would be pretty awesome. Though thinking outside the box...rita's italian ice would be pretty sweet there. Though the owner would have to be swimming in money in order to afford rent and taxes during the off seasons when they are closed. Damn maryland gonna tax everyone out of this state.

Anonymous said...

...Ray's makes every single "best burger" list out there for the region. I think it's safe to say it's better than "ok". Though I guess someone who says "the grease is what makes the burger" probably isn't looking for actual high quality meat and toppings. Try Fudruckers.

Anonymous said...

When did Quarry House change hands, Anon at 12:18?

Anonymous said...

the 5 guys hate is simply the usual hipster snobbery. Par for the course around here.

QHT burgers are good but nothing amazing. Rays are unbelievably great but they are only open during the evenings, you can't take the burgers out and you can only eat them in that bar area.

Completely inconvenient.

Anonymous said...

Finally a hipster comment! That's just what this post was missing.

Craig said...

Anon 5:45 AM,

The last time QH changed hands was like 6 or 7 years ago when Jackie Greenbaum bought the joint.

If the place changed ownership in the past year then it is news to me.

Anonymous said...

I remember trying to go there on a Sunday for an early lunch. Checked their website for their opening time. Got there shortly after that time, they said they wouldn't open for another hour. I told them about the inconsistency on their website and they didn't seem to care. We ended up at...5 guys. That's as close as I got to going in this joint. No loss on my end.

Anonymous said...

FYI: Just in case anyone had any delusions about anything ever starting on time ever on the SSTC project:

So...2 more months of more testing, 2 more months of arguing about what these new tests mean, 2 more months of planning how to incorporate these new tests into the remediation plan and we'll be all ready to go! Oops, now its winter, so another 4 months wait until the weather gets warm enough to pour concrete.

I hate this project and everything and everyone associated with it.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't surprise me. The place was seldom even half capacity. The burgers were unremarkably good but expensive, and the service was SLOW. You can't base your business model on foot traffic from a performance venue and serve food slowly. People want to be in and out quickly so they can wait in line or head back to the show.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic but Pete's Apizaa looks close to opening. There are pizza boxes sitting in the front window and the booths are in, lights have been on.

Anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but Pete's Apizzas looks close to opening. Pizza boxes sitting in the front window.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:42

The county should hold a fundraiser where we all can pay a certain amount to take sledgehammers to the SSTC. I'm not an engineer, but I'm thinking it's gonna have to knocked down and built from scratch again anyways.

Anonymous said...

Can we take sledghammers to the county council first?

Pooty said...

Urban BBQ would cool in the old Strange Burger location.

Anonymous said...

As far as the five-guys survey goes, I hate that place. They once served me a bag of fries, wich had no container or thick paper basket holding the fries. When I asked the guy to put them in something other than just the bag, they fell through the bottom of the bag due to the overwhelming amount of grease.

I used to work at Buffalo Wings and Beer and even they knew better.

I don't think there's enough foot traffic or street parking during the day to make a walk-in place a success when there's a Panera across the street, which is way more accessible.

While I'm at it, why are the oldest posts at the bottom of the page here? Can that be reversed?

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Anonymous said...

I'm late to the game with this comment, but the comment about the original owner "running afoul of regulations" is completely false. This can looked up online quite easily if permits weren't issued etc. The Stage Burger lounge owner bought it as is, and started claiming bs. Truth is, even with his years of experience in the restaurant industry he couldn't cut it in that location. He's had several other claims against him for non-payment when he buys new restaurant locations. The family of the chicken restaurant had taken over after the original owner passed away, so of course they sold it as is. Not their fault. If it wasn't a "real restaurant" I'm sure they would have had to pay some type of fine, or the actual landowner would have addressed it, but none of that happened since it isn't true.

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