October 24, 2012

Build Your Own Customized Cheeseburger At the Nassau Street Cheeburger Cheeburger

GREAT TASTES: “We are an informal but full-service restaurant. We have table-side service, and we have the freshest, highest quality 100 percent Angus beef — all-natural, vegetarian-fed with no antibiotics, hormones, or additives.” John Lim (second from left), owner of the new Cheeburger Cheeburger on Nassau Street, is shown with the staff, including from left: Vivian Lim, Matt Davis, Nick Collingwood, Jalyn Harden, and Tess Kazenoff.

How do you like your cheeseburger? You can “invent” your own at the new Cheeburger Cheeburger at 182 Nassau Street. Having just opened in mid-August, the eatery already has many fans, including a large number of regular customers, who love to customize their cheeseburgers with the myriad of toppings available.

“You can build your own burger, salad, or sandwich, with our huge variety of toppings,” says owner John Lim. “We have nine different cheeses, including blue, Swiss, feta, and parmesan, as well as cheddar and American. We also offer many, many more toppings, such as salsa, jalapeno peppers, honey mustard, horseradish, teriyaki, guacamole, curry, wasabi, and sriracha hot chili sauce. You can completely customize your burger to your own taste, and everything is made to order.”

The choices are truly unlimited, and customers are enjoying the opportunity to be creative, reports Mr. Lim, who opened the restaurant with his partner Adam Pasieka. Mr. Lim also owns two other Cheeburger Cheeburgers in the Mercer Mall in Lawrenceville and Hamilton.

An independently-owned franchise, the eatery is one of 70 across the country, says Mr. Lim, whose previous career was as an engineer in the corporate world. He decided to make a career change, after sampling one of the Cheeburger Cheeburger’s cheeseburgers (It was that good!). And, he has not regretted his decision.

John’s Place

“This is a franchise but a very exclusive franchise. We are known for the quality of our food and the fun that customers can have creating their special favorite. We are definitely not a fast food restaurant, which typically offers highly processed food, prepared elsewhere and delivered to the restaurant. Our beef, which is top-notch, is fresh, not salted or seasoned, and has great taste.

“I’m a foodie,” he adds. “(I love to cook — my spaghetti is second to none!), and I make certain that the food at our restaurant is the best it can be. What I want is for people to watch the Super Bowl, see a commercial for McDonald’s, and think, ‘On Monday, I’ll go to John’s Place for a burger.’”

Mr. Lim definitely looks forward to Cheeburger Cheeburger becoming a neighborhood favorite for families with young kids, teens, University students, as well as adults of all ages. “I want to embrace Princeton. I want us to be a local hang-out place. I want people to think of us as ‘John’s Place’. I’m local myself, and live nearby.”

Customers are enjoying everything — from the burgers to the wide variety of salads and the popular wraps, as well as turkey burgers, veggie burgers, portobello mushroom sandwiches, and many more choices. They also love the special French fries (with the skins) and onion rings, both available with any sauce or topping.

In addition, in keeping with the eatery’s vintage fun ‘50s-style, there is an array of shakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, root beer floats, and even the unique “egg cream” (made with the authentic Fox U Bet syrup), so familiar to New Yorkers and Brooklynites.

The true claim to fame, of course, is the cheeseburger — in all its variations and sizes.

Wall of Fame

“Our famous ‘Pounder’ — actually 20 ounces — is special,” says Mr. Lim. “We offer the ‘Pounder Challenge’. If someone can eat it, we take their picture and put it up on the Wall of Fame. We also have the three-quarter, half-pounder, quarter-pounder, and smaller. There is one for everyone. Kids love the burgers (they are served in a special colorful cardboard ‘car’ carton), and this is a great place for families. Prices are very affordable, with burgers starting at $5.59.”

Mr. Lim expects to have a big business with high school and college students as well. “We hope to establish a tradition with them. And we have already established a relationship with Princeton University, and have had a big catering order for their football team.”

Building a strong staff is very important to Mr. Lim, and he is pleased with his employees. “I make a point of hiring young people, often 17- and 18-year-olds. It’s our way of giving kids their first job and an opportunity to earn real money. I try to instill three concepts: honesty, integrity, and pride in their work. This will help them in their lives in whatever they eventually do.”

Giving back to the community is another focus for Cheeburger Cheeburger. “We are known for our fund-raisers for various community organizations, and we will continue to do this.”

Fun and Inviting

Cheeburger Cheeburger has seating for 110, with a counter, booths, tables, and chairs available. The colorful vintage atmosphere is fun and inviting, and Mr. Lim reports that many adult customers are reminded of fun times when they were kids going to the neighborhood diner to hang out with friends.

“I want everyone to be welcome here. I enjoy meeting and talking with people. It makes my day, and I want you to know that when you come into my restaurant, it’s as if you are coming into my home. You’re my guest, and I treat you as my guest.

“I also want people to know that we will always keep up the quality and maintain our standards — the best food, cleanliness, hospitality, and customer service.”

Cheeburger Cheeburger is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9/10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 to/9/10/11, Sunday 11 to 8/9. Hours will be adjusted over the next months. (609) 921-0011. Website: www.cheeburger.com.