Fort Mill Times

Restaurants beef up local burger options

The BLTE featured at Burger Craft in Fort Mill.
The BLTE featured at Burger Craft in Fort Mill.

Two burger concepts have brought a new sizzle to the Fort Mill area’s menu this summer.

The two restaurants – Fort Mill’s Burger Craft and Hwy. 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in Indian Land – differ greatly, but both serve juicy hamburgers good enough to make your mouth water.

Burger Craft serves 100 percent grass-fed, humanely-raised beef that CEO Suzanne Bonham says packs more vitamins and nutrients than conventionally raised beef, contains no hormones and is not treated with antibiotics. The restaurant serves fries and onion rings cooked in non-GMO oil and gluten-free chicken tenders.

“Our whole mission is about making conscious choices,” Bonham said.

With 35 years in food service that included a stint at Disney, Bonham opened her first craft-your-own-burger restaurant in central Florida three years ago. Fort Mill’s restaurant, at 817 Crossroads Plaza off S.C. 160 West and Gold Hill Road (near Planet Fitness), is owned by Aaron DeLuca and Michael Downey Jr., and is the chain’s first franchise.

Keeping in mind her own children and those who visited restaurants at Disney World, Bonham wanted to start a healthier food concept, with better-for-you beef and locally sourced ingredients.

“I wanted to do something a little special,” she said.

Bonham was in town recently, and worked elbow to elbow at the grill over sizzling burgers with her Fort Mill employees. She cooked up one of the restaurant’s BLTE burgers, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato and a golden fried egg and drizzled with maple syrup.

On the side were seasoned fries, sweet potato fries and massive onion rings.

Other burger toppings include the traditional, like onions, pickles and American cheese. For something different, there’s pork belly, soft, ripened brie, truffle oil and yes, even peanut butter and jelly, among many others. Turkey burgers, hot dogs and a chicken sandwich are also on the menu. Customers can order their burger over a bed of organic greens and topped with caramelized onions instead of a bun if they’re trying to cut carbs.

Non-carnivores can try the veggie burger, with portabello or black beans.

Bonham plans to visit the Fort Mill location once a month and wants the restaurant to give back through charity. A recent charity was the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte.

“This little town is growing and I love it,” Bonham said. “I love this area. The hospitality is unbelievable.”

Hwy. 55 beefs up local presence

Walking into Hwy. 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, 8348 Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521), Suite B, in Indian Land is like walking into a 1950s diner, complete with a pink and teal color scheme and oldies music on the sound system. Black-and-white posters of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and other entertainment icons from the era decorate the walls.

Franchise owner Jason Hall toiled over the grill with his employees during a busy lunch session on a recent Saturday. Hall said the restaurant was tops in the company every day during its first week in business late last month.

The diner serves hot dogs, crinkle fries and burgers, which include the double John Boy & Billy BBQ Bacon Burger, which is topped with mustard, chili, an onion ring and John Boy & Billy’s Grillin’ Sauce. The restaurant’s burgers are hand-shaped, always fresh, and never frozen, Hall said. A shrimp burger, chicken sandwiches, and platters with shrimp, grilled or fried chicken or hamburger steak also tempt the taste buds of customers.

The restaurant’s frozen custard desserts may be served over a brownie with whipped cream and nuts, or in a waffle cone or bowl and topped with a variety of sweets, including Snickers, Gummy Bears or fruit.

Hall owns Hwy. 55 locations in Lancaster, Rock Hill, Weddington, N.C.. The Hwy. 55 that opened last year in Fort Mill is under another owner.

The Lancaster High School graduate also owns Groucho’s Delis in Lancaster, Indian Land and Spartanburg.

“We take quality and service a step above,” Hall said. “I’m very particular about our source of cattle and our burgers are never frozen. We have a very economical price point and everyone gets one-on-one service.

Want to go?

Burger Craft, 817 Crossroads Plaza, Fort Mill, is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, 8348 Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521), Suite B, Indian Land, is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.