Burger boom sizzles near arena

Burger boom sizzles near arena
Photo by Bryan Bruchman

It’s not just properties that are flipping near the soon-to-open Barclays Center — it’s patties.

Burger joints are bouncing up around the nearly completed home of the Nets like loose balls as national chains vie with local businesses to win over thousands of hungry fans expected to hit the neighborhood in search of game-time grub.

No less than five new burger spots have opened in the last year within a half mile of the arena — and while the Nets won’t tip off there until this fall, restaurant owners say the game is already on for them.

“We don’t shy away from competition,” said John Agnello, the co-owner of Bay Ridge’s The Burger Bistro, which will soon hawk hamburgers from a new location near the stadium in Park Slope. “There’s an influx of burger restaurants there and we kind of just figured, ‘Lets go down there and play with the big boys.’ ”

The big boys Agnello will be competing with are corporate giants like Five Guys, which recently opened seven restaurants in Brooklyn and two within a 10 minute walk of the arena, Smashburger, which just launched its first outpost in the city on DeKalb Avenue, and downtown favorite 67 Burger, which debuted its second location within a ball’s roll of the Barclays Center in November.

With so many patty parlors competing for the same homecourt, it’s no surprise there’s some trash talk.

“We consider ourself more of a neighborhood place than anything else,” said 67 Burger owner Ed Tretter, who claims his ground beef is a grind apart — particularly compared to the chains nearby. “Our burger is nothing like [Five Guys.] It’s blended for us every other day, and it’s done to our specific design.”

The new burger barons are happy to talk about their rivals, but they were careful not to sound overly optimistic about the arrival of the Nets. That said, some admitted they were banking on a significant boost in business.

“I expect a 20 percent jump in sales once the arena is open,” Craig Cohen, who owns the Five Guys locations on Flatbush Avenue and Park Place, told the Wall Street Journal. “Even with the way the neighborhood is now, we are way ahead of our projections.”

Other hamburger honchos were more measured in their business assessments.

“The Barclays Center was icing on cake for us and I’m hopeful [about business,]” admitted Tretter. “But I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.”

Real estate experts said the burger boom near the arena is no surprise.

“These national companies watch everything. I’m sure that others are looking around in the area,” said broker and real estate expert Chris Havens. “Ultimately [the changes] are going be big because there’s always a ripple effect.”

McDonald’s, which already runs one location across the street from the arena at the Atlantic Terminal mall, has already eyed the Triangle Sports property at Flatbush and Fifth avenues.

Burgers already have plenty of fans in Brooklyn, and only hotdogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack may surpass them at the top of the American sports food pantheon — but not all neighbors are singing the praises of the patty proliferation.

“It’s nice to have something that everybody likes, but I’m worried about the neighborhood becoming too crowded,” said Prospect Heights resident Josh Macdonald, who said he noticed the trend on a stroll to Smashburger over the summer. “I like burgers, but I also like variety.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.