The South Howard Avenue dining scene is about to get another somewhat upper-tier restaurant, as the BurgerFi chain has picked a site for its first location in Tampa.
BurgerFi will occupy one of the ground-floor spaces in the Post SoHo Square apartment building at 714 S. Howard Ave., directly next to the Ava restaurant that Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon and 717 South owner Michael Stewart plan for the apartment complex.
BurgerFi officials have not set an opening date yet, but they've started preliminary work, including a new Facebook page for the site. Development work has begun; contractors filed building permits for the site Tuesday.
Parked in an already crowded dining scene on South Howard Avenue, BurgerFi and Ava will use parking space in the apartment complex that's being built on site.
Based in North Palm Beach, BurgerFi has more than 60 locations nationwide. The closest operating site appears to be in Winter Park, though several more are planned in Florida.
In some regards, BurgerFi goes along with the more popular trends in fast-casual dining. Customers order at a front counter and select ingredients on sandwiches for pickup after they pay. The signature sandwich is a Double Natural Angus Burger, with lettuce, tomato and “BurgerFi sauce” (510 calories). There's also a Breakfast All Day burger with American cheese, hickory bacon drizzled with maple syrup, fried egg, hash browns, grilled onions and ketchup. There are also hot dogs, fries, custard shakes, plus wine and beer at many locations.
The name BurgerFi stands for the “Burgerfication” of America, and perhaps the most distinctive aspect of BurgerFi is that the kitchens literally brand the chain's name on the top of each bun.
At one point last year, BurgerFi officials had targeted a Tampa site on Kennedy Boulevard, but that deal never came to fruition.
The better burger scene has expanded dramatically in recent years, primarily with the explosive growth of the Five Guys chain. In Tampa, there are more names in the burger mix, including Square 1, Burger Monger, Burger 21, Stacked Burgers and others soon to come on the scene.