The Follow-up File

Subject: Fiamma Burger

What they said then:
   In August 2006, the BBJ reported that La Fiamma owners Ken and Dan Bothman planned to open Fiamma Burger in fall 2006 upon completing the space’s renovation.
   In the article, the Bothmans detailed how they spent the course of two years tasting burgers in 12 cities across the United States in order to come up with the perfect recipe to serve in their restaurant at 1309 Railroad Ave., in the former Station Pub space.

What they say now:
   Fiamma Burger is entering its final phase of construction and is getting close to opening in summer 2007, Ken said.
   On his original idea of opening by fall 2006, Ken said, “I try not to think about that. If I did I would go absolutely insane.”
   The Bothmans have experienced many obstacles and unknowns during the renovation process, he said, the most significant being the building’s structural renovation. Ken said that because the building was sinking, they had to take out the entire floor, without jeopardizing the building next door.
   He also mentioned the nature of the construction, which he described as high-end and custom built, has provided challenges.
   So far, the project’s cost has exceeded $1 million, including $370,000 just on equipment. For example, the two bought a high-end grill for $35,000.
   The Bothmans have recently addressed the cost by pre-selling gift cards in various large denominations to be used at both Fiamma Burger and La Fiamma.
   The cards can be purchased in denominations of $500 (The Patty Patron), $1,000 (The Bun Builder), $5,000 (The Dough-Ner), and $10,000 (The Upper Crust), according to a press release. In addition to using the cards for food, beverages, and merchandise, once a customer hits Bun Builder status they receive extras, such as pre-opening party invitations and VIP sweatshirt “hoodies.” Dough-Ners and Upper Crusters will also get a pizza named and created by them, and the Upper Crusters will get a private party at La Fiamma for up to 100 guests.
   “It’s a way for us to get a little influx in cash,” Ken said.
   Dan’s mom suggested the idea after seeing a deli in Los Angeles pre-sell credit to jumpstart their restaurant’s opening.
   “We liked the idea and thought it would be more fun for us than filling out a lot of paperwork at the bank,” Dan said.
   Ken said he and Dan are anxious to open Fiamma Burger.
   “We’re not just like sitting around eating Fiamma burgers all the time,” he said. “We’re finding, like most people do, that things cost twice as much and take twice as long, and in our case that’s true.”

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