DEARBORN — The newly opened Good Burger restaurant on Michigan Ave. blends fast food and retro American dining, offering halal options and a casual place for people to hang out.
Owner Zo Olabi called the third manifestation of the restaurant a fast-casual restaurant environment. Its original location was at a gas station in east Dearborn, he said. He and his father opened a second location in Garden City because they outgrew the gas station’s size and because it had low traffic.
They also noticed that many of their customers were driving from Dearborn Heights and even Ann Arbor to east Dearborn.
“We didn’t expect to outgrow the gas station so fast,” Olabi said.
After graduating from the University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Business, Olabi opened a catering business with his mother, which is when the burger joint was born in 2012.
The name came naturally.
“It just kept rolling off the tongue,” Olabi said.
He added that he was aware of the 1997 Nickelodeon show “Good Burger”, however he didn’t watch it until after the restaurant opened.
“It feels like you’re familiar with it, ” he added.
Olabi said despite the business’ initial popularity among Arab Americans in east Dearborn, their other location has gained recognition and popularity among people of all cultures.
In the beginning, the Olabi family focused on the younger crowd, targeting them via social media platforms.
“We realized that the demographic that were coming to us at the gas station were teenagers,” Olabi said.
He added that the teen customers’ parents are curious and that both the youth and adults enjoy the food.
“It’s not fast food because the quality is superior,” Olabi said. “It’s also not your usual diner, because there are no waiters and waitresses present. The concept is a comfortable blend between fast food and casual dining.”
He added that when someone thinks of burgers and milkshakes, they usually think of an American diner-style restaurant.
“The diamond shapes, the silver, red and yellow colors are representative of that style,” he said of the decor.
Olabi explained that the opportunity to open the restaurant on Michigan Ave. was both perfect and strategic, as there aren’t many halal burger joints in the area.
He also promised that Good Burger meets the Islamic standards of halal meat, imported from a well-known and trusted local supplier.
Although the restaurant’s theme resembles the “Five Guys” fast food chain, Olabi and his father are going for the classic 50’s style diners. “We’ve already established our image, based on the taste of the food and quality of service,” Olabi said.
The most popular menu options among diners are the Southwest Burger and the Good Burger sandwich, which includes crispy onion rings and the signature Good Burger sauce, along with the usual burger ingredients.
Olabi said that before officially opening the restaurant, they planned a family gathering to celebrate as a soft opening. On that night, he said they forgot to lock the doors and turn off the open sign, bringing in a rush of customers who “couldn’t wait” until the grand opening.
According to Olabi, the meat is fresh daily and never precooked.
“What we really focus on here is the quality of the food and the image of the restaurant,” he added.
Dorothy, a customer at the restaurant who works in the hospitality business, said she appreciates a restaurant that has good customer service. She added that her husband wanted her to try the food and said she had to try to the food for herself.
“The food is superb and everyone is friendly,” she said.