By Sam Petri on June 14, 2011
Five months after Taco Bell crunched, wrapped and supremely split town, a new burger joint that promises to serve locally raised beef on custom-made buns is working to open in the location by July 1.
Owner Bruce Bollinger of Victor signed a lease in April and has been working to revamp the fast-food shell into a 40-seat restaurant that serves burgers, fries, beers and milkshakes in a casual, sit-down environment that’s cheaper than The Bird, he said. (So, despite readers’ pleas, there will be no In-N-Out.)
Workers hung signs for the Broadway business, named after Bollinger’s grandmother, Agnes MacPhail, earlier this month. The restaurant is not a chain.
MacPhail’s is one of several moderately priced eateries opening this summer as Jackson’s once-booming luxury economy flounders. Burke’s Chop House on Glenwood recently relaunched as The Garage, ditching fine dining in favor of burgers, pasta and simpler fare. Pinky G’s is gearing up to open in the Pink Garter Plaza, replacing the former Cafe Ponza pizzeria.
Bollinger, a University of Vermont graduate who most recently was vice president of marketing at Melaleuca Inc., an Idaho Falls company that sells so-called green products, has gutted The Bell and supplanted the drive-through with a Flat Creek float-through. Old Taco Bell tables have been placed creekside, behind the restaurant, welcoming tubers to hop out, grab a shake and float on.
Bollinger said the front lawn will be landscaped to accommodate families waiting for a table or people who may want a to-go order. Beyond burgers and beer, the restaurant will serve hot dogs and some simple fish and chicken sandwiches and have one or two wines available — if Bollinger can obtain a liquor license.
After doing market research, Bollinger said he saw that Jackson has plenty of high-end and low-end restaurants but few hitting the middle. This is what he aims to do with MacPhail’s, he said. A family of four dining out, with everyone getting a drink and leaving a 20 percent tip, should be able to get out of there for $75, he said. Looking at the menu, sandwiches were about $10 a pop, with the most expensive menu item, a steak, coming in around $14.
To ensure quality, Bollinger and his wife, Dawn, plan to be at the restaurant at all times. “I’ve got too much invested in this for it to fail,” Bollinger said.
Perhaps MacPhail’s will win the middle, something that could prove to be a popular and profitable trend for businesses this summer as cash-strapped tourists and locals exercise thrift.
(Garage photo by Heather Erson)