West Lawrence hamburger restaurant moving, getting into ice cream business

photo by: Courtesy: Burgers by Bigg's

The Jay Hog burger and fries are pictured at Burgers by Biggs in west Lawrence.

I don’t care how cold it is, it is perfectly appropriate to plan for more ice cream. (I’ll have to put a bed on the porch, but I absolutely can fit another freezer in the house.) A Lawrence hamburger shop indeed is planning for more ice cream, and it will be moving to a new location to make it happen.

Burgers By Biggs soon will be moving to a new west Lawrence location at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive, in part because the restaurant wants more space to start a traditional ice cream business.

“We will be doing scooped ice cream,” owner Doug Holiday said. “It will be old-fashioned, kind of like soda fountain stuff.”

Burgers by Biggs has been operating in space near Sixth and Wakarusa since 2012. It is a sister restaurant of Bigg’s BBQ, which has a large space on south Iowa Street. The new space for Burgers by Biggs will be in the Wakarusa Marketplace shopping center at the southeast corner of Bob Billings and Wakarusa. The restaurant will be taking the vacant space on the far eastern end of the shopping center.

The new space will be about 1,000 square feet bigger than the existing location at 4801 Bauer Farm Drive. Holiday said a natural idea for using the space is ice cream because cheeseburgers and shakes are an all-American combo. The restaurant has offered some specialty shakes in the past, but hasn’t had enough room to keep multiple flavors of ice cream on hand to have a full menu of shakes and ice cream. The new space will change that.

Holiday is still working on the specifics of the new menu. But he won’t have long to figure it out. Burgers by Biggs plans to close the existing location on Feb. 26. Holiday hopes to be open in the new space by March 5.

The restaurant business obviously has been faced with a lot of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Holiday said it made sense to keep the concept going. He said the restaurant has built a strong following in its eight-plus years of business, and the type of food it serves seems to fit well with the psyche of diners.

“I think comfort food is popular right now, and this is just good, old-fashioned comfort food,” he said.

As the name suggests, the restaurant’s menu is full of hamburger and cheeseburger options. Those include a traditional cheeseburger and several of the usual variations on that theme, including a mushroom and Swiss, a western burger with barbecue sauce and bacon, and a black-and-blue version that features Cajun spices and blue cheese. But there are also several specialty burgers, including a California style with avocado, a Firebird version with ghost pepper cheese, and the Jay Hog, which has a patty that is a 50/50 mix of bacon and beef.

But perhaps the bigger signature element is the style of burgers. The restaurant serves all of its patties steakburger style, which is actually different from how Bigg’s BBQ serves its hamburgers on south Iowa Street. Both restaurants use the same mix of ground brisket, inside round and beef tenderloin. Bigg’s BBQ uses the meat to create a thick half-pound burger, while Burgers by Biggs creates the thinner patties — most burgers come with two — that are smashed and grilled on a flattop to create a seasoned, crispy crust.

House-made french fries are a common side, although the menu also includes onion rings, tater tots, fried pickles and chicharrones, also know as fried pork rinds. The menu also includes a few of the barbecue options available at its sister restaurant, including a pulled pork sandwich, or if you want to go really crazy you could have something called the Porky Dog, which is a hot dog topped with pulled pork.

The new restaurant will be about a mile south of the current location. Holiday thinks his current customer base will follow him to the new location, but he’s also excited about getting on a new corridor. The Bob Billings Parkway corridor has been gaining traction and traffic in recent years as the Bob Billings interchange opened on the South Lawrence Trafficway. That now makes Bob Billings an easy entryway to the University of Kansas campus for people traveling from west of Lawrence.

Holiday said that would provide good visibility for the restaurant, and having the larger space will make it easier to spread out seating for the indoor dining area. The space also will have an outdoor seating area. Both of those considerations are important in today’s environment, which is the type that could give some entrepreneurs second thoughts about new restaurant ventures.

Holiday, though, comes from a longtime restaurant family. His grandparents were the founders of the Wagon Wheel Cafe, or the Wheel, along the edge of the KU campus in 1955. Holiday said the restaurant business could still be a rewarding one, even during these tough times.

“It is a fun way to be part of Lawrence,” he said.


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