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Upscale burgers a hot item

Dec. 3, 2011 at 2:14 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Gourmet hamburgers with premium beef, high-quality cheese and other extra touches are a fast-growing item in the restaurant trade.

Datassential, a Los Angeles company that tracks business trends, says the number of restaurants with hamburgers on the menu is up 4 percent since 2005, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Almost one in five restaurants that serve hamburgers are classified as fine dining.

"This isn't a new concept, it's just a renewed one," Tom Prakas, a South Florida real estate broker who has helped restaurants develop burgers, told the newspaper. "It's a steak on a bun; we've just elevated it from the fast food chains."

Brian Connors, who teaches at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, suggested the economic slump has been good for burgers.

"Customers know what quality is, they want meats like black angus and braised short rib in their burger, but they want it at a good price," he said. "They want the Ritz Carlton experience but for the Ritz Cracker price."

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