Forget your New Year’s resolutions, at least for one day. After dropping teasers on social media since October, Rochester’s newest restaurant, Hot Chip Burger Bar, opens today. This beef-centric eatery is located in the former ZZest Café space on 16th Street SW.
Restaurateur LeeAnn Zubay said that after eight years with ZZest, it was time to branch out into something new. The Zubay family has quite a depth of experience in running restaurants in Rochester- they’re the force behind Porch and Cellar as well. However, they felt there was no single restaurant in the city focused only on one thing, burgers.
“We feel like we have researched, planned, [and] created the best burger we can with the emphasis on the four key ingredients (beef, tomato, lettuce, bun) being local,” explained Zubay.
Hot Chip is led by the brother and sister team of Lindsay and Jason Zubay, alongside head chef Justin Schoville.
Although the interior of the restaurant may look vaguely familiar to frequent ZZest patrons, guests should expect a completely different experience and vibe from Hot Chip. The space has a younger, hipper feel and is a distinctly more casual setting. The walls are adorned with graffiti-like paintings, including the tongue-in-cheek cartoon burger mascot Chip, who delivers some adult-flavored messages because he just doesn’t “give a chip.” Hot Chip is full of industrial, recycled elements, such as concrete bars and countertops. Checks are delivered in CD cases, complete with the original compact disc.
This experience, of course, also includes the food. The Hot Chip menu currently has sixteen different burgers, including a made-from-scratch chickpea burger option. The eatery also boasts cheese curds with kimchi dipping sauce, adult (and kiddie) milkshakes, $2 shots, beer for the kitchen, and an Old Fashioned featuring Jason Zubay’s signature bitters.
The Zubay family has been involved in the restaurant scene in Rochester for a long time, but the business still has its challenges.
“At this point for us, nothing is a surprise. However, it does continue to amaze us that the restaurant scene is not about food only,” LeeAnn explained. “For us, food is the most important element. But for the majority of people, restaurants are a combination of things. Good food doesn’t necessarily mean success.”
They’ve taken this lesson to heart with Hot Chip; Jason Zubay said the team will be very strategic with the branding and message of Rochester’ newest burger establishment.
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