500 DEGREES restaurant TAKES BURGERS TO ANOTHER LEVEL in Philadelphia



UPDATE FOR BURGER GIVEAWAY: A new burger place is opening in our neighborhood. It’s own by Rouge, undoubtedly the best burger place in the City. But you don’t have to spend $16 for their burger as they are opening a mini-burger place. Burger, Fries & a soda for under $9


The first 100 people will be given a free burger of their choice starting at 11AM. After that, until 3pm, bring a friend and split the bill with a buy-1-get-1.

From 5-7pm enjoy free soda and fries with the purchase of any burger. And then finally, from 11pm until their yet-undetermined closing time, enjoy free fries with any purchase.

1504 Sansom Street

ORIGINAL POST: Yesterday (3/4/10) I was invited to a tasting at Rouge for the new burger restaurant 500º which will be located at 1504 Sansom. The time 9:00AM. No corn flakes for me today.

The Menu, easy, simplistic, easy to read, easy to order.
For many of you who follow me on Twitter you know I am a burger guy, love my burgers, love my buns and love my fries and more or less do a burger tour of the City monthly. A few weeks back I went to Rouge for my first burger there. Kim Genkin, Neff Associates follows me on Twitter (IPhillyChitChat), mentioned it to the folks in the know and well they agreed along with Rob Wasserman that I should come to the 500º tasting and give them input about all things burger. Other folks invited were friends, regulars, David Neff & company, Michael Klein and staff, Who could turn down an invite for burgers for breakfast as well as be the first one on the block to take a bite, yum. OK it was a bit crazy, but I was so excited to see how these behind closed door tastings play out.
500º is a joint love affair of Rob and his wife Maggie Wasserman, as well as their staff including Chef Matt Zagorski and his team who will be running the operation. Most of the details were already ironed out, packaging perfected, but feedback was essential and included taste, texture and appearance.

Also the Wasserman’s filled us in on the inspiration for their baby 500º. Mostly I heard stories of their favorite memories while growing up where burgers were simple and tasty; fries and shakes completed the meal.

But Rob and Maggie aren’t just anyone, they are the owners of Rouge, the iconic restaurant on Rittenhouse Square, where the who, who’s dine, young and old mix, tourist and celebrities hob knob. So as much as they might not want to call this the little Rouge Burger, it certainly has that pizazz of uniqueness, quality and good taste.
Chef Matt Zagorski explains to the early morning crowd the 5 temperatures of preparation, as well as the quality of meat, stressing it’s not the kinda burger you’d find at a fast food place, it’s think and doesn’t fall apart.

Below is his team who will be running the operations at 1504 Sansom Street. (about 1 block from where I work, scary.) Samantha Cruz, Joseph Cairnes and 12 yr long employee/GM Robert Pearce. (Who I knew in another lifetime.)
At 500º, chef Matt Zagorski the 5½ ounces of beef, will be served on a Challah roll from Wild Flour Bakery, which will deliver twice a day. (here we have the Classic $5.75 and the Cheese Burger $5.25. The plain burger is not here, but that’s $4.75, and the 500º is $5.75. (My suggestion was to make it $6 ’cause it was the signature burger, but Rob & Maggie said no way, it’s more about the affordability then gauging customers for another $.25 ). (Some folks were suggesting a flashing neon light “Fresh Rolls Just Delivered” paying homage to “Krispy Cream Donuts.” That didn’t fly either.)Fun features of ordering your burger include what kind of pickles you want. Rob remembers going to camp as a kid and enjoying the Bread & Butter Pickles and that’s what he likes with his burger, but he’s going to give you an alternative to, The Kosher Pickle; that’s what I like. (Michael Klein likes the Bread & Butter ones.)

Also two dipping sauces for your burger or fries, I never asked, I suggest it’s for both my table mate nixes it. The top fiery orange one is great for head colds and sinus problems, it’s jalapeno something. Not so good for first thing in the morning. The second sauce much nicer, mayonnaise, Worcestershire and tasty. Both of these sauces as well as the ketchup and mustard will be in SQUEEZE BOTTLES, and that was emphasized. I imagine as a kid Rob did not like pump bottles or perhaps he’s been to Geno’s where they get all clogged up if not cleaned on a regular basis.
Another favorite childhood delectable was Bassetts’ Ice Cream, Rob’s favorite. So when you order your shake know it’s Bassetts. Three flavors

Chocolate, Vanilla and Black & White, $5 for 22 oz. Oh and the pop drinks 22oz, self serve (so just tell them you’re getting the tax free diet soda and save $.2 an oz, but this is only an opinion so don’t subpoena me when you are arrested for evading taxes.) My pick is always a chocolate shake, but some days I like vanilla, today I had the Black & White.
Fries Plain, (There will be no cheese fries, unless a child comes in crying and the mom says he can’t live without them. )
Spicy and Truffle, but this is not their packaging. The packaging was well thought out, clever and practical. (WOW on the spicy, even more so than Popeye’s)
Again think simplicity, mobility, and biodegradable. It’s true 500 is going for the green, not completely, but notable. No more plastic trays, all orders will be in this handy white paper bag for portability to your destination. Now originally Rob was thinking drink in bag, but a few folks groaned at the idea and the drink tray was conceived for 2 or more orders. Now that’s productive feedback at a tasting.
Fries will be served in this attractive bag, who’s weight escapes me, but small was not in his vocabulary. Also they will be sealed, and any grease will be contained inside and not soak thru to your pants.
One of the best ideas in packaging has to be this very sturdy brown wrapping for the burgers. Doesn’t crumple, doesn’t soak up the juices, and actually works for me since I will be spending many a day eating these burgers at the park, although they will have 23 seats inside the restaurant so that’s an option too. Decor rustic, relaxed and laid back I hear.
Hours can I tell you about hours? When IHop opened, they used to close at Midnite. I said to the manager you are practically the only restaurant in this corridor of 12th & Walnut, you have to stay open later and it will pay off. I went back and now if you are seated by 1:30AM you can stay past closing at 2AM. When Philly Cup Cake opened and their hours were 9AM til 6PM, what are you crazy, you have the best cupcakes you have to extend your hours, now they are 8AM til 8PM (What I didn’t suggest was they raise their prices, which they did by a dollar, ugh!!)

I didn’t have to suggest that to Rob cause he already understands the market.

The hours for 500 are 11AM til 10PM and on FRIDAY AND SATURDAYS TIL 3AM, that is so awesome. Well I’m not out that late anymore if I can help it, but great for some of you late nighters. I foresee lines out the doors so get there right when the club closes.

Enjoying burgers alongside me were smart looking couple Tempa Berish and Eric Robbins, They loved the burgers, thought they were high quality, and look forward to late night noshing. Perfect way to start the day as they headed off to their company Chelsea Partners.
Rob Wasserman and his real estate broker, Steven Gartner, who helped seal the deal with just the right location of 500.
As the 11 o’clock hour approached it was time for me to return to work, lunch hour was over and Neff & Associates needed to finish strategies with Rob and Steven about the 3/23/10 launch. I did offer one last advice, perhaps they could open on 4/1/10 with the slogan “It’s No Joke, we’re open today!!” They groaned.
With the memory of breakfast still on my mind
I return to the scene of the crime and enjoyed a scrumptious Rouge burger for dinner last nite, I got healthy & had a side of salad instead of fries. (must return to my diet before 500º opens)