Kraze Burgers, an all-American hamburger chain started in Korea in 1998, is opening its first U.S. location—in none other than Bethesda. The restaurant will replace the defunct National Jean Co. at 7301 Woodmont Ave.

“We’re very excited about it,” says Mike MacDowell, president of Hanshik, Ltd., the Fairfax, Va. franchise owner. The rent is “awfully expensive, but we think the foot traffic is well worth it,” he said.

According to MacDowell, Kraze Burgers was started by a Korean man who came to the U.S. and brought the American burger concept back with him. There are now a total of 108 Kraze Burgers restaurants in Korea and other Pacific Rim countries. And in an ironic twist, the American burger is now making its way back. MacDowell says Hanshik has plans to open five restaurants in the next year, all in the Washington metropolitan area.

“Everybody in Korea sees it as American cuisine. It’s not like they’re making a burger any differently than we do, says MacDowell, who has eaten in Kraze Burgers in Korea. “The reason we thought it was a good concept is that it’s not only [beef] burgers, but there are healthy alternatives. There are options for the entire family. If you go into a Five Guys, you’re going to see 90 percent guys in there.” The counter-service restaurant will also serve tofu, turkey and garden burgers.

MacDowell said they are aiming for a “soothing, more upscale” setting, similar to “a Panera-type experience.” He put the quality somewhere between Five Guys and a gourmet burger, and the price somewhere between $10 and $11, including a drink and fries.

Look for an opening sometime this summer.


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