Before he became BFFs with Kim Kardashian, before he was a PR mogul, before he opened a tony Miami sushi restaurant, Jonathan Cheban was a Hofstra student with a dream of opening up a burger shop.
Early next week, his dream will come true. Burger Bandit is scheduled to open at the intersection of Broadway and Merrick Road in Lynbrook. “It was 15 years ago that I had this vision of a burger place,” he said on Tuesday during a visit to the location from his home in Manhattan. “And now I am really seeing it.”
Burger Bandit, which takes over what used to be Quiznos Sub, is bright and spacious, with counter seating, booths and tables. The rustic-industrial decor — lots of stained wood and stainless steel — is reminiscent of the wildly popular burger chain Shake Shack (whose only Long Island branch is in Garden City).
For Burger Bandit, Cheban teamed up with a friend, Gene Broytman, who lives in the Five Towns. “Gene originally wanted to do a lobster-burger place,” Cheban said. “But with my audience, I wanted a more affordable place.”
Cheban’s audience is composed of viewers of the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” visitors to his gossip website TheDishh.com and the more than 1.1 million people who follow his Instagram (on which, it should be noted, he posts more photos of food than of Kardashians).
In the years since he graduated Hofstra, not only have burgers become big business, but Cheban has turned into a self-described foodie. “My whole day revolves around food,” he said.
And he has very definite ideas about burgers.
“I don’t like them so big that everything falls out of the bun,” he said. “I don’t like those brioche buns — too much bun. I don’t like all those different kinds of cheeses. I don’t like it when the burgers are rock-hard; I like them mushy and delicious.”
Along with restaurant consultant Bradford Thompson, Cheban was able to design the burger of his dreams. It weighs in at 2 ounces (the same size as Five Guys’) and comes on a Martin’s potato roll (like Shake Shack’s). On the griddle it is topped with thinly sliced onions, which wind up on the bottom when the patty is flipped. The “Original Bandit” ($2.99) is topped with American cheese, pickles and “Bandit sauce” (a pink, mayonnaise-based sauce, not unlike Bobby Flay’s BBP Fry Sauce). Also on the menu: Veggie Bandit burgers, Bandit dogs (deep fried so the skin explodes), fries, waffle sweet-potato fries and shakes ($4.39) made with either chocolate, vanilla or the shop’s signature toasted marshmallow ice cream.
2 Broadway, Lynbrook, 516-593-4015, burgerbandit.com