Wendy's in particular isn't rolling over. New burgers, gourmet toppings, etc are being rolled out. But no valet parking, alcohol, etc. There's lot of growth in the $10 and up burger segment, with 2011 growth at 18%, compared to 3% overall.
Based on the article, I see the tiers as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, In N Out at the bottom tier, with places like Five Guys, Steak n Shake, NY Burger, Smashburger, etc on the next level up. Above that are Bobby's Burger Place, the Ale House chain, Red Robin, Zinburger, The Office, The Counter, etc coming in at $15-$20. Specialty burgers like Wolfgang Puck's burger at Spago, dbBistro Moderne's burger ets are in the next tier up.
The article sees saturation coming soon. And, it sees the chain restaurants getting hammered first.
Umami’s prices start at $10 for the most basic offerings, including the Hatch Burger, with four types of green chilies. The most expensive is the Ahi Tuna Burger, at $15.
Founder Adam Fleischman said Umami offers “fine-dining fast-food,” albeit with valet parking and full bars at some locations. In Manhattan, he said, it will succeed by catering to high expectations of diners with many choices.
Fleischman said he also expects a shakeout. “I think it will affect the franchise players specifically,” he said.
Interest in fancy burgers has been fueled in part by cooking shows, such as cable network Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Nazarian said. “The names and descriptions of ingredients in food are becoming part of our daily vocabulary,” he said. “This awareness is breaking that chain mentality.”
Back in the 1990s, “you never had a chef with a credible resume doing anything like the burger,” said Sang Yoon, the former executive chef at Michael’s who bought a Santa Monica pub called Father’s Office in 2000 and made it into one of the region’s first burger-focused restaurants. He opened a second store in L.A. in 2008 and said demand has been so strong he’s considering expanding.
Chef Wolfgang Puck has been serving a variation of his $23 grilled prime burger with smoked onion marmalade, garlic aioli and Vermont farmhouse white cheddar at Spago in Beverly Hills for at least 10 years, according to the restaurant.