Will Duncan, owner of Fitzgeralds, 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, has embraced his collaborative side to lure music and burger lovers to his Berwyn music venue throughout August.
After spending decades working in the music, restaurant and bar industries, Duncan made his longtime dream of owning a music venue come true when he purchased Fitzgeralds in March. Just two weeks later a global pandemic turned the music industry upside down.
“It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride,” said Duncan. “But I’ve always been a thrill seeker.”
Ever the optimist, Duncan is dedicated to making Fitzgeralds’ outdoor area an appealing and safe place for the community. Pooling diverse skills sets makes for a more memorable event, according to Duncan, and Fitzgeralds has teamed up with a quartet of chefs to bring a bevy of burgers to their generously sized patio on Saturdays in August from 5 to 10 p.m.
“Collaborations bring something new to the table every time,” said Duncan. “We have the music covered and a great bar, but the food element was missing.”
The Burgers are Best event series kicked off Aug. 8 with music from Dozen Buzzin Cousins and Fareed Haque and his Family Band. The burger du jour had a decidedly local feel with Brendan O’Connor of Big Guys Sausage Stand, 7021 Roosevelt Road, manning the grill.
“I love serving up safe burgers that put smiles on faces,” said O’Connor. “And I have a soft spot for Fitzgeralds, because I grew up going there. Will Duncan is new, and he is doing a fantastic job.”
In addition to serving up a classic burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, O’Connor showed his creative side by offering a Bloody Mary Burger.
The nine-ounce beef patty was larger than the standard Big Guys burger and came topped with 18-month aged gouda, a fried egg, pancetta, arugula, roasted garlic aioli and a house-made Bloody Mary ketchup. The sauce made from fire roasted Roma tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and lime brought a brunch beverage flavor to the sturdy burger.
The crowd-pleasing theme extends for the next three weekends bringing in an array of bands and three additional chef-created burgers to Fitzgeralds.
Masks are required and reservations are accepted for Fitzgeralds’ patio. Half of all available tables are left to accommodate walk-in customers. Fans of both burgers and tunes are encouraged to pop by — with proper social distancing, the patio holds at least 80 guests.
On Aug. 15 Berwyn chef John Manion of Chicago’s El Che Steakhouse will fire up the grill at Fitzgeralds while The Corcoran Brothers Band and Chicago Farmer contribute tunes for evening. Manion’s burger will undoubtedly have an Argentinian twist and embrace his passion for live-fire cooking. Additionally, El Che meal kits, meats and provisions will be available via pre-order on El Che’s website for pick up at Fitzgeralds.
Chef Michael Lanzerotte of American-fare hot spot, Saint Lou’s Assembly, and Oak Park’s School of Rock Band will provide the burgers and music on Aug. 22.
The Chandelier Swingers and Toronzo Cannon and The Chicago Way will provide entertainment as folks enjoy a burger by Nick Jirasek of sandwich-focused newcomer, Big Kids on Aug. 29.
We’ve got food music and booze,” said Duncan. “When you get those three things working in harmony experiences can become memorable.”
The Burgers are Best events are an effort to stay positive, stay focused and stave off challenges. Duncan noted there are some “bleak aspects” of both the music and restaurant industries at the moment, but he finds optimism in what he sees coming from communities that surround Fitzgeralds.
“Fitzgeralds’ community members are supportive, connected and engaged,” said Duncan. “These events are going to be awesome.”