New burger concept coming to OKC’s Plaza District in June

Published Tuesday, May 14, 2019
by Molly M. Fleming

A group of hamburger enthusiasts are bringing a small, yet mighty, new concept to the Plaza District.

Jordan Harris, Tyler Maune and Christopher Gomez talked about having a restaurant for about five years. When they heard 1705 NW 16th St. would be empty in 2019, they spent the next 18 months fine-tuning their concept, New State Burgers & Spirits.

The space was previously home to Tree & Leaf Clothing. The burger restaurant is east of DNA Galleries and west of Velvet Monkey salon.

New State will open in June, featuring flat-top, griddle-cooked burgers. Harris and Gomez are familiar with the style, having grown up in El Reno, where the onion burger is king. Gomez and Maune became friends working in the energy industry. The group hired Jay Iaquinta to run the restaurant. He spent several years managing concepts for the Good Egg Dining Group.

Iaquinta said while there are some proprietary elements to the burger, it’s a small thin patty cooked on a griddle.

“It’s not an onion burger,” he said.

The partners worked with Spring Board consulting firm, which has Chef Robert Black on its staff. U.S. Foods’ on-staff chefs also helped with the menu.

A single cheeseburger is actually two patties, while a double cheeseburger is three patties. An Impossible Burger, a non-meat patty, is being offered as well.

The burgers are the main attraction on the 19-item food menu. There are nine cocktails on the menu as well. Besides the burgers, Harris said he’s most excited about the Chef Lizzie Jane Crispy Chicken Thighs. The thighs are braised then fried, but they’re not battered.

“They are unreal,” he said, adding that the thighs even come with a special sauce.

The menu was intentionally designed to fit on one page, said Gomez.

“We wanted to have a limited number of things so we could execute them well,” Gomez said. “With this size of menu, people can come here a few times then find their favorite thing.”

Harris said in regard to a menu, he’s a fan of having a few good plays and executing them well. A multi-page menu is built for commerce, he said, while a single-page menu is designed for quality.

The space is only 1,250 square feet, so a larger menu would call for more ingredients. But there’s limited storage area, Gomez said. A walk-in cooler was brought into the backyard and attached to the building, so space was not used inside the building.

The restaurant features a 14-seat bar with a zinc bar top. The griddle is in the north corner and is separated from the dining area by a short wall. But people can still see the action at the griddle. The dry goods and other items are stored in the restaurant’s north side.

Iaquinta said the concept, like many others in the restaurant industry, could have been executed by having customers order their food at the counter. But the partners still believe in offering quality service, he said.

“We want to demonstrate the value of service and be enthusiastic about it,” he said.

The interior design was created by Sara Kate Little. The exposed brick wall will have artistic portraits. Harris said the partners wanted a look that was inviting and fit the district.

“We want people to be comfortable here if they come in after a jog, or if they’re here for a special event,” Harris said. “We want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome, but not pretentious.”

Iaquinta said the warm atmosphere ties into the partners’ ideals for the concept. “For the people” is the restaurant’s tagline, but it’s also how the partners will operate the concept, he said. That means the restaurant’s 20 to 25 employees will be well cared for, he said, because the partners want their staff to have a good quality of life.

When the staff is excited to come to work, then they’ll take good care of the customers. New State also wants to be welcoming to the neighborhood, he said.

Gomez said the partners like the area and are excited to be in the neighborhood.

“It’s a good reflection of where Oklahoma City is going,” said Gomez.

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