First, the brass tacks: A cheeseburger at American Grind will set you back $3.81 more than a similar style at Shake Shack, $5.25 more than the same offering at Snarfburger and $7.10 more than a single patty (1×1) at In-N-Out.
Even still, there’s good reason to be intrigued by a local burger place serving grass-fed beef sourced in Colorado with homemade fixings on a locally made challah bun at an $8.50-$13 price point.
The new American Grind restaurant in Wash Park is worth checking out. It’s a concept that’s been gaining traction in Denver for the past five years.
In 2014, friends Jared Schwartz and Kade Gianinetti started sourcing local beef for a fast-casual burger they were perfecting from inside a food truck. A few years and dozens of iterations later, they turned the mobile operation into a temporary food stall at Avanti, and just this month, they built out a standalone space on South Pennsylvania Street, next door to the second Uncle ramen shop.
RELATED: A second location of popular Denver ramen shop Uncle opens in Wash Park
Where their neighbor has created a cult following around $15 ramen bowls, Schwartz and Gianinetti hope to attract a regular crowd as well for cheeseburgers, ice cream and alcohol, plus a range of house-made sides.
Most of American Grind’s burgers are made entirely with grass-fed beef from Boulder’s Buckner Family Farm, hence the price.
One patty is a 50/50 blend of beef and mushrooms for $10.50, while another is a vegetarian option made of chickpeas, beets and more for $8.50.
Sauces, vegetable dishes and sides are all made from scratch, from ketchup and mayo to grain salad ($12), fried green beans and French fries ($3-$5).
For dessert, there’s Boulder-based Ice Cream Alchemy in scoops, sandwiches, sundaes and shakes ($3.50-$7). Even the lettuce is locally grown at Denver’s indoor Altius Farms.
“You can do this with cheeseburgers and French fries,” Schwartz said of American Grind’s model. “This is golden era (for food), but with today’s sourcing and responsibilities.”
Schwartz grew up in Ohio eating at the local Swensons Drive-In, while Gianinetti grew up in Colorado on a Carbondale ranch. When the two worked together at Denver’s Linger, they hatched a plan to start a restaurant where their interests could cross. Now the business partners own American Grind and The Way Back, both preaching sustainability but at two different price points.
If they were to switch to grade A-certified beef at American Grind, for example, hamburger costs would cut in half, Gianinetti explained. Instead, the restaurant is tackling Americans’ meat consumption on a small scale.
To balance these big-picture views, Gianinetti and Schwartz are offering fun incentives in their new neighborhood, like ice cream Sundays when kids can get a free scoop and date-night deals where a pair of diners can order two burgers, fries and a bottle of biodynamic wine for $35.
They’ve also decorated American Grind with hanging plants as well as TVs, a BurgerTime arcade game, kids’ toys and board games so it can’t be taken too seriously in the end.
“We’re just two guys who started a food truck and are doing a burger thing,” Schwartz said.
American Grind, 81 S. Pennsylvania St., 719-368-3847, americangrindco.com.
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