by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
Looking for new markets to conquer, “BUBBA burgers” will soon expand from home freezers to headline at four restaurants in Jacksonville and then expand beyond the area.
The “Original BUBBA burger Grill” will open in the former Times Grill locations at Baymeadows Road and Florida 9A, Beach and Hodges boulevards, Normandy Boulevard near Cassat Avenue and 1811 Town Center Blvd. in Fleming Island.
“Bubba burger is already the number one choice in America’s homes and backyards,” said Bubba burger President and CEO Billy Morris in a news release.
“This will make ‘BUBBA burger Grill’ ideally positioned for success and growth in the premium burger segment of the restaurant industry,” he said.
The company plans to have the Grills open by the end of March and before the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bubba burger 250 April 29 at Richmond International Speedway.
The Bubba burger Grill is described as a fast casual restaurant chain featuring a menu focused on all varieties of Bubba burgers, including its original, sweet onion, jalapeno, reduced fat, mini Bubba bites, all natural and certified Angus beef as well as the new turkey Bubba burger.
The news release said Grill customers can create their own Bubba burgers by choosing from a variety of burgers, buns, toppings, cheeses and sauces.
There will also be a Bubba chicken sandwich and a mini Bubba hot dog platter.
“Our Bubba fans have been asking us for years to open restaurants where they could get their Bubbas on the go when they were away from home,” said Morris.
Fans of the Jacksonville-based burger business may notice a few new items on the menu with the Bubba name and can expect to see more as the company plans to use the restaurants to test new items for its retail market.
“The Bubba chicken sandwich and mini Bubba dogs will only be available in the restaurants, for now,” said Andy Stenson, vice president of business development.
Following the chain’s initial four restaurants under development in Jacksonville, the company plans to grow across the country through traditional restaurant locations as well as food courts, airport locations, college campuses and sporting venues.
Former Times Grill owner Kelly Harris, who is also an owner of Peterbrooke Chocolatier, said he didn’t plan to leave the restaurant business, but when he was approached by Bubba burger executives, he couldn’t pass up the offer.
“We weren’t looking to sell, but all the pieces fell into place,” said Harris.
“We just couldn’t focus on both companies, so we are going to focus on one and make it successful. You have to focus on the details,” he said.
The chocolate business is doing well in the face of a tough economy.
“Chocolate sales are up over the prior year,” said Harris. “The chocolate business is an inexpensive treat.”