Feb. 11, 2016 By Michael Florio
Bareburger, the popular restaurant chain born in Astoria, has gone international.
The organic burger restaurant, which opened in 2009 on the corner of 31st Avenue and 34th Street, has expanded globally with a restaurant in Tokyo and establishments opening soon in Germany and Dubai, according to co-owner Jimmy Pelekanos.
After opening in Astoria, the owners of Bareburger quickly began expanding, opening a restaurant near NYU in 2011.
They started franchising the business soon afterwards, Pelekanos said. They were encouraged to do so by Luca DiCiero, CEO of NY Space Finders, who introduced them to a Forest Hills partner that opened a franchise in that neighborhood in 2012.
DiCiero later introduced Pelekanos and his partners to a businessman from Japan, who ultimately bought the right to franchise the brand in Tokyo.
The restaurant in Japan opened in July 2015.
Bareburger has continued to expand internationally, with openings expected in early May in both Dubai and Frankfurt, Germany, according to Pelekanos.
“Construction is underway and it just comes down to when it finishes,” he said. “They are very close to opening.”
Bareburger has sold the franchise rights to both of these locations.
The international restaurants have similar menus to the ones in Astoria, but with some adjustments to fit the local markets.
In Japan, the restaurant serves a Tsukune Burger, which is made with minced chicken, as well as a Tomorrow Burger, with a patty made of Ozaki Beef, according to the Japan Times. In Dubai the restaurant will replace bacon with beef bacon and will not serve alcohol, to accommodate local customs, Pelekanos said.
However, Bareburger does ship its sauces to all of their restaurants.
“The sauces are a signature part of Bareburger,” Pelekanos said. “But we do try to source a lot of things locally.”
Since opening in Astoria just seven years ago, Pelekanos and his partners have opened about 30 Bareburgers in total including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio and Canada.
They just opened in Santa Monica, California, two weeks ago and hope to open in Plainview, Long Island, this weekend, according to Pelekanos. The company website also lists a Washington D.C. location coming soon.
Pelekanos never envisioned the restaurant taking off to this extent this rapidly.
“We opened the restaurant and wanted to see how it went,” he said. “We absolutely could not imagine it going to this level.”
Pelekanos attributes all of the company’s success to the Astoria community.
“If it wasn’t for them, we would be nowhere,” he said.
Pelekanos and the other co-owners all grew up in Astoria and still consider it their home.
“The 31st Ave location will always be considered our baby and a priority for us,” he said. “We consider that our flagship.”
“We are very proud to say Bareburger was born in Astoria,” he added.