Last night, the folks behind 4Food, the new donut-hole burger place that's opening next month on Madison and 40th, offered a friends and family sneak peek to the crew at techie website Gizmodo. And they gave Eater a little walk through beforehand to get some shots of the composter (works 24 hours a day), social media jumbotron, burger making machine, and all the rest. As readers of earlier coverage already know, 4Food is selling a two-pronged concept/gimmick here: 1) customizable burgers with holes in the middle and 2) overt social media pandering with a board that displays check-ins and tweets, a feature that allows customers to build their burgers online, and a leaderboard that displays the most popular burgers. Suffice it to say, there were iPads everywhere.
So how is the place in the flesh? To order customers choose a bun, a patty, a filling, a 'slice', a cheese, condiments, and then side orders (rice, potatoes, etc.) and drinks. People who planned ahead by building their burgers online can save some time at the checkout by just ordering their pre-named burger. The people behind the counter are incredibly nice (and look at those uniforms!), but the heightened customization of every single order leads to an inevitable bottleneck at the pickup counter. And one hopes that someday they use those big screens to announce orders instead of yelling them into the crowded room.
It's a narrow space but with three floors of dining including bleacher-like seating in front of the jumbotron social media board. There are constant reminders—on the walls, on the trash cans—of the composting, commitment to environmental, sustainable ethos, etc. Still, the burgers are ensconced in quite a bit of (recycled we imagine) packaging.
There are some potential problems: 1) Will the concept trump the flavor/food quality? 2) Do New Yorkers really want that much choice and customization?, and 3) Do they want burgers with holes in the middle with things stuffed inside?
Stay tuned to find out the answers when it fully opens to the public on September 7.
· All Coverage of 4Food [~ENY~]