Citizen Burger: The Everyman’s Bar

Posted on June 14, 2012 by


In the restaurant industry, owning a diner or an eatery can carry a great deal of stress and financial risk. However, entrepreneur Andy McClure seems to have figured out the right formula for success.

As the prosperous owner of the Virginian Restaurant Company –  Biltmore, No. 3, West Main, & The Virginian – Andy can probably tell you a thing or two about what it takes to run a successful joint.

Owner & Creator- Andy McClure

And this Friday, June 15th, he will be debuting his newest addition to the Virginian Restaurant family – Citizen Burger Bar. Right on the Downtown Mall, Citizen will bring new life, and deliciousness, to the old Siips spot. Cville Niche had a chance to talk to Andy about Citizen Burger and the restaurant industry.

Andy started out as a restaurant entrepreneur back in 2001, when he was a 4th year at UVa and working at The Virginian, where at the end of most work evenings, he, the staff, and the owners would sit around and talk. Some of the staff and he began to talk about what they would do if they were the owners, but what started as normal chatter turned into further attention being paid to Andy as the owners became more interested in his ideas. When he graduated, although Andy already had a financial job setup in New York City, the opportunity fell into his lap to purchase The Virginian. Even though there was a lot of risk, he eventually decided to take the chance, move back to C’ville, spend the next year sleeping on his couch, be a bit destitute, and spend all his remaining time restoring The Virginian.

©cville niche

Fast forward 11 years to now — Andy is still buying restaurants and transforming them into successful businesses. But this time, it is his own vision 100%. Since the other four locales were already established when he purchased, Citizen Burger will be his first attempt at building his own restaurant from the ground up – from the interior design and decor to the food to the atmosphere and culture of the place.

©cville niche

Citizen Burger Scribble- Bart Lanman

According to Andy, every other restaurant had to do with the place itself and not him. Citizen Burger not only will look like what he wants it to look like, but this place means more, because creating a restaurant like this has been his dream, it’s what he’s always wanted to do.

“But it’s about the customer, about people saying, ‘I get everything I want here’,” added Andy. To Andy, the idea of Citizen Burger is new to Charlottesville — a one-food focus restaurant. It’s far from a casual – dare we say fast food – place, but instead boasts an upscale yet down-to-earth atmosphere – it’s an everyman’s place.

So, what can you expect from Citizen Burger?

There will be a wide selection of burgers to choose from, ranging in price from $9-25. You can expect to see the standard American burger, the veggie burger, and even variations with lamb and chicken, with to-die-for ingredients like Kobe beef, brioche bread, and shaved truffles.

“It’s a burger bar at heart.”

As for ingredients, Andy is working with several farms around Virginia for beef, poultry, bread, and dairy products, including Timbercreek Farms, Davis Creek Farm, Albemarle Baking Company, & Mountain View Farms.

As for the man behind the flavor, Head Cook Mitchell Beerens, in Andy’s words, is “the man with great [restaurant] experience, but also the guy who wants to make the perfect fries.” Mitchell has experience with the Virginian Restaurant Company, and most recently at Mas Tapas.

©cville niche

Mitchell and Noah – the men behind the flavor

Lastly, since Citizen Burger Bar will also include a bar, expect not only a large selection of beers to choose from and daily speciality cocktails, such as a bacon-infused drink with a bacon stirrer, but also a list of beer-and-burger pairings.

Citizen’s retro vibe with exposed brick walls and murals is juxtaposed with modern design details and a sleek exterior, and will no-doubt be a new hot spot on the mall.

As for the interior design and atmosphere, Andy hopes it’ll be the place people say, “Let’s go to the bar with the chairs with the warm embrace.”

©cville niche

 Is your mouth watering yet? Ours sure are… see you at Citizen!

{Photography by Katerina Diplas}

{Article by Alex Wead and Linnea White}