The Brief, Mysterious Life of a Phantom Burger Joint

IMG_0461Suzanne Rozdeba A burger from Aaron’s Grill.

Katz’s isn’t the only restaurant that recently started delivering via Seamless: in recent months, Aaron’s Grill began using the online ordering service to deliver organic Bison burgers, salmon burgers, and fried pickles.

Never heard of it, right?

And yet its Seamless listing said it was located right in the East Village, at 92 Third Avenue.

But go to that address, between East 12th and 13th Streets, and you won’t find Aaron’s Grill: you’ll find Blue 9 Burger, the chowhound favorite known for its classic fast-food-style burgers (and certainly not for fancier fare like the wood-fired turkey burgers at Aaron’s Grill).

We got to wondering: did Blue 9 create Aaron’s just so it could top Seamless’s alphabetical list of delivery joints?

kool blooJoann Pan

Blue 9 didn’t respond when we asked for comment, but a Seamless spokesperson said the company was aware of Aaron’s. “This specific example is a known issue and is in the process of being shut down,” the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. “Questionable examples of dual concepts are managed out of the Seamless partner network.”

Soon after our inquiry late last month, Aaron’s Grill indeed vanished from the site. Its listing on Menupages now indicates it’s “closed,” though it was never really open to begin with (in the traditional sense, anyway).

As it turns out, businesses can operate multiple food concepts out of a shared kitchen if “there is signage for both concepts and there are two materially different menus operating out of the same location,” said the spokesperson for Seamless.

That’s The Brindle Room’s saving grace.

Chef and owner Jeremy Spector operates Seamless delivery services out of the 35-seat eatery’s back kitchen, where he also preps items for Donkey Punch Pizza. DP Pizza offers cast-iron deep-dish pies like The Shocker, while the eclectic American kitchen serves homey favorites including crispy pork belly, smoked pork loin, creamy polenta and porcine mashed potatoes.

Mr. Spector believes his restaurants under the PGB Food umbrella, including a brick-and-mortar location of DP Pizza on the Rockaway boardwalk, offer unique dining experiences, unlike other entities that post numerous menus on Seamless.

“There’s no overlap: the identity of the Brindle Room is that it’s a neighborhood restaurant, plain and simple,” he said. “The identity of DP Pizza is something completely different. It’s almost kind of funny if you look at the menu items. It’s supposed to be silly and fun and all that. And, it’s pizza. It’s a completely different thing. That’s what legitimizes this compared to others.”

Kool Bloo is a 24-hour hamburger joint with three locations in Manhattan. Scroll through Seamless’s list of restaurants that deliver to the East Village and you’ll find two locations of Kool Bloo (one on Avenue A, the other in SoHo), plus two locations of “BBQ Pit (Brought to you by Kool Bloo)” and two locations of “Freakin’ Wings (by Kool Bloo).” They’re pretty much impossible to miss.

The different concepts, two of which don’t have brick-and-mortar locations, make things easier for customers, argues Kool Bloo marketing specialist Jason Veduccio. And each location has a slightly different menu.

“We don’t want to have menu sprawl,” Mr. Veduccio said. “We want our customers to have the easiest way to order.”

As for Aaron’s Grill, it’s not the first time Blue 9 has had a short-lived alter-ego. Maybe it should bring back Haffezi’s Burgers?

Correction, Dec. 12, 2012: The original version of this post was revised to reflect a correction. The address of Blue 9 and Aaron’s Grill is 92 Third Avenue, not Second Avenue.