Shawn Burke’s new restaurant, Spanky Burger and Brew, is not named after the Little Rascals’ star, and it’s not a childhood nickname that he just can’t shake.
It’s a grill term, he says.
“Spanky is a term when you flatten the burger on a grill. It’s called spanking out the hamburger,” said the former owner of Blue Cannon Pizza in Gig Harbor.
Burke is opening the 40-seat burger restaurant in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood in a space that previously held a Starbucks. He’s expecting to open in November, but that’s contingent on permits and construction. He’ll serve a menu of 10-12 burgers, plus fries, onion rings and shakes.
The restaurant will be casual and family friendly. Diners will order at the counter and select a seat.
While he took a several-year detour to tacos and pizza, burgers were Burke’s first restaurant experience. He previously worked at Burger Works in South Hill and Shucky Muckers on Pier 57 in Seattle.
That was before he operated four Taco del Mar franchises, which he exited to open Blue Cannon Pizza in 2010. He closed that restaurant in December with the intention of finding a new home for his casual pizza eatery.
When he saw the Starbucks space was open on Sixth Avenue and Pine Street, he made an offer.
Then he changed his mind about the pizza. Burgers, he said, are a lot more fun to make. Plus, there’s already plenty of good pizza on Sixth Avenue, he said.
He’ll fry his burgers on a contact grill. A quarter-pound patty will be standard, and he prefers fresh chuck to make his patties. Prices will range from $4.49 for a Spank burger to $6.99 for a salmon burger with a fresh tartar slaw.
He’ll feature a few unusual combinations, including a barbecue bacon blue burger, a peanut butter burger with bacon and a fireball burger with jalapenos, pepperjack and salsa. His chicken bacon burger will be made with grilled chicken breast. A ground turkey burger and a vegan burger (made by a commercial producer, not in house) also will be served. He’ll also offer a Spanky Joe ($4.49), which is his riff on a ground beef sloppy Joe sandwich.
Fries will be frozen (in the $3 range), but he says they’ll be broader cut than shoestrings, and he prefers a skins-on fry. He’ll serve onion rings, but he’s still debating whether to go with battered or breaded. The house burger sauce is also currently under construction, but he said he likes a sauce with a bit of tang.
Shakes will come in about 30 flavors. He’ll also serve beer and wine with plans to include a mostly local tap list.
Spanky Burger and Brew
Where: 601 S. Pine St., Tacoma; facebook.com/spankyBB.
Opening: Targeted for November.