By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Those driving down Lake Drive in Lake Gregory Village have noticed that the former A Burger restaurant in Crestline has been painted and construction is taking place, after sitting empty for years.
Residents have been anxiously asking what is happening: Is it reopening? What type of food will it be serving? Will Liz be running it? Its prime location at the corner of Lake Drive and Forest Shade makes residents want the location to be successful, whatever the iconic building becomes.
The building was originally built as an A&W, which served root beer and burgers and operated as such for years. Liz Tulcan worked for the former owner and bought it from the estate sale. After Liz took it over, she changed it into just The A, renaming most of the menu items. She ran it for over 41 years, until her health and her family forced her to retire. Two of the children who grew up in Crestline tried operating it themselves for a short while, marveling how their mother ever had the energy to work so hard to keep it going for so many decades.
Doug Barbee and his wife, Lisa, bought The A through Cliff Herington Jr. of Herington Real Estate in Top Town Crestline. Herington formerly worked with one of the Tulcan girls selling real estate so, when the building was to be sold, he was a logical choice as an agent.
Doug and Lisa are excited about the location and the opportunity to reopen The A. He has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, 20 years of those at Red Robin, so he knows burgers. Plus, he recognizes The A has a reputation to uphold of serving great burgers, so he plans to fulfill or exceed those expectations.
“The A has a memorable history,” Doug said. “I plan to serve a ‘back to basics’ take-out burgers menu, with burgers, fries, onion rings, chili and possibly a delicious chicken sandwich as well. And I want to make it official: the name will remain The A. We will have root beer, orange and coke floats but no soft serve ice cream to start with, as a special permit and another machine is needed for that.
“Originally, I thought a soft redo of the building would suffice with new refrigerators but, as the contractor got into the job, creating more kitchen prep space out of the dining area, the redo became more complex. However, I now anticipate opening in mid-October, as soon as the building and health departments approve.”
The A will be a walk-up, take-out burger place, as it was originally designed, since the seating area has become part of the new expanded kitchen; prep was previously done downstairs. The expanded space was also needed for the modern equipment required by the health department. Few people used the indoor seating when it was available, so this is not much of a change. Because the restroom is downstairs, the seating area was not permitted to be used due to new ADA requirements. The closure of the dining room windows was one of the first changes noticed in the building by residents when the redo began.
The new paint colors were chosen by Lisa and many new exterior boards were added, replacing the worn-out ones on the building. The weather had taken its toll over the past few years since Liz ran it.
“The parking lot is going to be entirely redone. A new parking lot driving pattern will add parking spots to the property,” said Doug.
The Bear Claw, next door, has encouraged Doug in his opening of The A restaurant, and said patrons may bring his food into the bar and have food brought over to them; they are working together for both to be successful.
More information will be available as the opening date approaches. They plan to have a soft weekday opening before the grand opening on the following weekend to be sure all systems are in efficient and full operation. He is now hiring employees. Send a resume or your contact information and experience to [email protected].
“I need some great employees to make The A into a gathering place in town. I plan to bring great burgers back to this historically great burger place in Crestline,” Doug said.
The A is located at the southeast corner of Lake Drive and Forest Shade at 24075 Lake Drive, one block west of Lake Gregory and Goodwin’s Market in the Lake Gregory Village area of Crestline.
YES !!!! best burgers in town!