Nearly a year ago, 405 Burger Bar opened just south of the University of Oklahoma campus.
In early October, the “big bun burger” concept will move to a larger space on Main Street with expanded drink and food options.
Stelen Covel, OU alumnus and son of country music star Toby Keith, opened 405 Burger Bar at 1429 George Ave. in September 2021. With plenty of game day food and beverage options at Campus Corner, Covel saw a need in the south of the district.
“We put the concept out there not anticipating that people would love the food as much as they did — the food really blew up there,” Covel said.
After four months, Covel said 405 Burger Bar had outgrown their kitchen. Originally the plan was to focus more on drinks, but the demand for food had pushed the limits of their space.
When a partner bought the two-tenant, 8,500-square-foot building at 2539 W. Main St. that once housed Jimmy’s Egg, Covel said accepting an offer to operate out of one of the building’s spaces east of Interstate 35 seemed like the perfect move.
With more kitchen space, Covel will expand the menu. But he expects their “big burgers,” like the Oklahoma Onion Burger and Sidewinder Burger, to continue as popular choices.
“There will be more sandwiches, salads, appetizers and different foods,” said Covel.
Every onion burger at 405 starts with a salty grilled patty next to a pile of onions. When it begins to brown, the patty is placed on top of the pile of onions and broken up with a spatula to seal in the flavor.
While the burger cooks with a lid on it, Johnson smears lard on the other side of the grill and places a large bun face down to grill.
“It’s simple and has that classic flavor — there’s nothing fancy,” said Austin Johnson, who has been cooking at 405 Burger Bar since the first day of September 2021. He said he enjoyed being a part of the effort to build brand 405 Burger Bar and watch it grow.
Staff say customers from as far away as Mexico have tried their onion burgers.
“We’re (often) told it’s the best,” Johnson said.
Rashad Crump, who has worked at 405 since January, said a bigger kitchen will help operations as he made dough Thursday morning.
“We’re going to be able to have a bigger staff — I think it’s going to be fun,” Crump said. “I think it will make it a lot easier for everyone to do everything with more space.”
However, the expansion will allow for much more than just a bigger kitchen. More seats and a larger parking lot were also motivating factors for the move west.
Covel is adding a sports theater room modeled after a sportsbook-style space that holds about 50 people. The soundproof room will boast a large projector screen with a seating area for Las Vegas sports books. A bar will border the back of the room, which can be rented for events and open to the public at other times.
“If it’s not a big game and we don’t rent it out, it will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis,” Covel said.
Beer drinkers will be able to choose from an entire wall of beer on tap from local breweries and several national brews. Covel cuts 12 taps along the back wall of the bar.
When customers come to the restaurant’s new location later this fall, they’ll notice that the sports bar vibe has been further emphasized.
“We’re going to put a lot of sports memorabilia in there — it’s going to be really unique,” Covel said.
Ideally, Covel said the sooner fans can come eat an onion burger and drink a beer by early October, just in time for the first road game at Texas Christian University.
“If we’re open from the game away from TCU, then we’ll be really happy,” Covel said.