A bacon cheeseburger at Bethpage Burger Bar, served on a...

A bacon cheeseburger at Bethpage Burger Bar, served on a bun tinted black by activated charcoal. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Heck, why not try burgers? When Bethpage Burger Bar opened on Sept. 15, it eschewed the building’s decadeslong diner history and enthusiastically embraced the current craze for burgers and over-the-top shakes.

The Burger Bar’s immediate predecessor on Hempstead Turnpike was 24 North: A Finer Diner (2019 to 2020), consulting chef Tom Schaudel’s attempt to breathe life into a property that had had brief stints as Diner Luxe and Chow Down Diner after more than 30 years as the Bethpage Townhouse.

But when Eddie Fahmy, principal at A2Z Restaurant Consulting, was brought on by the owner to re-imagine the property’s concept, "diner" was not on the table. "The food scene has changed in the last 20 years," he said, "and diners on Long Island are dying."

On the other hand, he didn’t want to wander "too far off the beaten path," nor did the team want to junk the most recent renovation. "They put a lot of money into the last build-out," he said. "We wanted a concept that would match. A Mexican restaurant wouldn’t work here, but burgers and shakes do."

Fahmy also noted that a diner’s encyclopedic menu and extended hours require a relatively large staff, making COVID-related regulations all the harder to follow; the Burger Bar’s concise menu and dinner-only hours are easier for a small crew to manage.

The Burger Bar’s half-pound burgers are a custom blend of hanger steak, short rib, brisket and chuck. (Turkey, Beyond and vegetable burgers are also available.) They come, with hand-cut fries, in about a dozen varieties, topped with everything from cheese and bacon to mac and cheese and lobster, and can be had on a regular brioche buns, pretzel buns, gluten-free buns or dramatic black buns, tinted with harmless (and tasteless) activated charcoal. Sandwiches include fried or grilled chicken, skirt steak and lobster rolls and there are also starters, salads and wraps. Prices for mains range from $11 to $19.

Shakes make extravagant use of Long Island’s own Chonky cookies; witness the Tall, Dark Chonky with peanut butter and chocolate ice creams, topped with a Chonky double-chocolate chip-peanut butter cookie, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles, or the Chonky Circus Freak featuring vanilla and Oreo ice cream, topped with a cotton-candy Chonky, rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream. Specialty shakes are $11; classics are $6.50. Also on the beverage front: cocktails and beer.

Bethpage Burger Bar is owned by Harpinder Singh, a construction-company owner whose first foray into restaurants was 24 North. Harpinder has no relationship to Harendra Singh, whose Singh Hospitality Group presided over Chow Down and Diner Luxe. It was Harendra Singh who, in 2016, pleaded guilty to bribing former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and others.

Bethpage Burger Bar is at 4011 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage, 516-597-5309, bethpageburgerbar.com.

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