It was Friday morning and Grassburger owners Ed and Jessie Kileen were putting the finishing touches on their newest location at 360 South Camino del Rio. The grand opening was just an hour away and Ed Kileen was installing a bathroom door handle while Jessie Kileen was hanging necessary certifications on the wall.
They were ecstatic to be opening a second location in the town where it all got started.
“You know, it feels really good to grow in the community you started,” Ed Kileen said. “We have one store here, downtown. Now we have two stores in Albuquerque. But to do it in your hometown feels really good.”
Grassburger opened its original restaurant in downtown Durango in July 2014 and its first Albuquerque location in 2016.
The Kileens chose the new location based on feedback from regular customers. Ed Kileen said customers complained parking had become an issue for the downtown location and the restaurant was hard to access.
“It’s really hard to park downtown and it’s really hard to get in and out of town, especially during peak season,” Ed Kileen said. “So we started looking around and saying, where would it make sense if we were to do a second location?”
Curbside pickup was also a factor in the decision to open a second restaurant in Durango. The downtown parking situation and bump-outs made it even more difficult for Grassburger to operate curbside pickup. The new building is away from the main road, and customers can pick up orders with ease.
Ed Kileen said the South Camino del Rio location will attract customers staying in hotels and people coming off the Animas River. He also said there was heavy traffic in south Durango because of offices and other businesses.
Because of COVID-19, the Kileens wanted to emphasize outdoor seating and close off the patio so people can drink alcohol outside.
“COVID changed the way you do business in most industries and certainly in the restaurant industry,” Ed Kileen said. “It’s one of the reasons we have limited indoor seating here and have a much larger outdoor patio.”
He said outdoor dining is popular among the outdoor community. He plans to make the patio a focal point of the restaurant by welcoming live music and entertainment.
The new restaurant also has a larger kitchen than the downtown location.
In expanding, the Kileens said they want to keep the restaurant’s brand in mind. And much of that means keeping standards up.
“So one of the things that we’ve looked at is how do you expand? Do you do your own growth or do you franchise?” Ed Kileen said. “And when you franchise you can significantly lose control. We’re not trying to be the biggest and we’re not trying to put ourselves everywhere.”
Remaining clean and healthy is a concept the Kileens take pride in. Jessie Kileen credits the use of clean meat and the ethical treatment of animals for Grassburger’s success.
“People want to know where their sourcing is from,” she said. “They want to know what they’re eating is sourced with integrity and good intent.”
Grassburger’s food-conscious menu was developed because the Kileens’ sons have food allergies. They wanted to create a restaurant that served great food but was sensitive to food allergies.
“When we wrote the menu, we said we’re going to write a menu that our boys can eat every time, and if there’s something they’d be allergic to, there’s an alternative to it,” Ed Kileen said.
Grassburger does not use nuts or corn syrup in any of its products. Instead, it uses rice bran oil when preparing food.
The Kileens are further exploring the Albuquerque market for expansion but nothing has been finalized about another new location.