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So how did Burger 21 come to be? In November 2009, co-founders and husband-and-wife team, Mark and Arlene Johnston, had a vision to create a modern fast casual burger restaurant that offered a unique variety of high quality food in a hip environment with lasting appetite appeal to people of all ages. After all, burgers are and will always be an American passion.
Since the dawn of what's been called the "Era of Upscale Burgers" in 2001, chefs in America had been elevating the burger and creating unique culinary interpretations, resulting in more refined and demanding palates among burger-loving consumers. Mark and Arlene had a strong desire to create a restaurant that would stand out as a unique concept and satisfy those palates.
After researching and taste-testing hundreds of burgers, their team founded Burger 21 and went to work creating the restaurant's menu, décor and culture.
In November 2010, the first Burger 21 location opened in the Westchase area of Tampa, Florida where it began serving up its 21 unique, chef-inspired burger creations, signature shakes, fresh salads and more, in a contemporary-style diner atmosphere with fast, high-touch service. From the start, it was typical to see tables filled with families of three generations engaged in conversation over Burger 21’s unique burger creations, such as The Ahi Tuna, Tex-Mex Haystack and The Skinny turkey burger, in addition to its hand-crafted shakes like the Bananas Foster and Key Lime Pie.
Burger 21 established a clear and fun culture from day one, which is best described by its creative "B-isms" – which range from "B-saucy" and "B-different" to "B-comfortable" and "B-involved." Prominently outlined on the back of the menu and painted on the walls of the restaurant, Burger 21's "B-isms" boldly state the brand’s values and what customers can expect from its food and service.
As part of Burger 21's unique culture, the company has provided more than $127,000 in contributions through its "B Charitable" initiative, in which it donates 10 percent of its restaurants' sales to local schools and charities on the 21st of each month.
Since launching an aggressive growth strategy in September 2011, Burger 21 has quickly expanded its national footprint to 19 restaurants open and more than 20 franchised locations in development across the country.