Lush Burger serves up gourmet eats with neighborhood appeal
By Sherry Jackson
With a name like Lush Burger, you have to go with a theme. “Make it sexy” adorns the waitstaff’s hats and the menu has quippy remarks throughout, showing the restaurant doesn’t take things too seriously. Add in a large outdoor patio in the DC Ranch area of North Scottsdale, good happy hour specials and tasty hamburgers and it’s the perfect neighborhood spot to sit back and relax.
Rhode Island natives Michelle and Jay Hoff purchased Lush Burger about three years ago. After vacationing in Scottsdale, the couple decided they’d had enough of the snow and cold winters and made the move to Scottsdale.
“There was a foot of snow and we couldn’t get into the driveway,” Michelle says. “So, we sold two of our restaurants and came out here.”
The Hoffs aren’t new to the restaurant business. Jay got his start by opening Chili’s restaurants across the country. In Rhode Island, the couple owned three restaurants, including The Abbey, a neighborhood pub that’s been around for 19 years. It’s the only restaurant in Rhode Island the couple still owns.
Making the move with them was Sam Panice, Lush Burger’s manager.
“He’s like family,” Michelle says.
Panice interned for Jay in another business more than 13 years ago, as a freshman in college. He worked with the Hoffs in their Rhode Island restaurants, too. He saw the move as a way to be closer to his family in Las Vegas, where he grew up.
“When we came across Lush Burger, it was a natural fit,” Panice says. “It just made sense to bring our East Coast flair to the Phoenix area.”
The Hoffs are Lush Burger’s third owners in eight years. After buying the restaurant, they changed the menu and improved the quality of the meat and produce, Panice says. Now, everything is fresh and locally sourced when able.
“We know burgers,” Michelle says. “The Abbey won best burger in the state of Rhode Island three years in a row. We also loved the location of Lush Burger and the neighborhood. And the patio is just gorgeous.”
The restaurant serves up half-pound, 100%, never-frozen, black angus beef gourmet hamburgers. The Infusion Burger is the restaurant’s most popular burger, with Wisconsin pepper jack cheese, diced and roasted hatch green chilis, housemade chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato all piled high on a brioche bun.
Another customer favorite that’s not on the “official” menu…yet, is the Roadhouse Burger featuring Wisconsin gruyere cheese, frizzled and caramelized onions, thick-cut applewood bacon and housemade garlic aioli on an onion roll.
In addition to burgers, the restaurant has a variety of sandwiches and salads. The restaurant has a full bar, extensive wine list and specialty craft cocktails.
Its happy hour is a popular draw, not just for the patio atmosphere, but for the low prices as well. Drink specials usually run 3 p.m. to close Monday thru Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.
In the next few months, Lush Burger plans to make menu changes, Panice says. Flatbread pizzas will be removed, making way for new quinoa bowls with choices of protein like salmon, turkey, chicken, veggie and ahi tuna. The Roadhouse Burger, along with others, will go on the menu.
“We want to also be known for having that healthy option in addition to our burgers,” Panice says. “We’ll be able to accommodate everyone.”
Menu changes, quality ingredients, even the restaurant’s atmosphere are all about making the customers—and neighborhood—happy.
“At the end of the day, we’re really trying to be that destination burger joint, for all of Phoenix, of course, but really the local neighborhood,” Panice says. “One of my favorite parts of the job is seeing our regular customers and their kids.”