Natural burger joint to replace KFC

While burgers and health food don't always go hand-in-hand, a recent Dartmouth graduate is taking the challenge and opening a sustainable burger joint, Urbun Natural Burger, in Laguna Beach this spring.

As his classmates looked for full-time jobs, applied to graduate school or moved home, David Mainiero, who graduated this year with a degree in history, created a business plan and marketed it to investors, many of whom are former schoolmates.

The space will occupy the former Kentucky Fried Chicken location at 695 S. Coast Hwy.

The 23-year-old noticed the location while he was in town a few months back, thinking to himself that it would be the perfect spot. The next day he drove past and noticed it was closed.

"I had a deal in the next two days," he said.

The concept is natural from head to toe, Mainiero said, from the construction all the way down to the corn compostable plastic cups.

Mainiero believes the quality and price point differentiate it from its competitors. Although the burgers offer toppings such as truffle aioli, brie cheese or cherry peppers, Mainiero said the burger won't cost much more than one at In-N-Out Burger. A double cheeseburger will set you back about $5.95.

Besides beef burgers, Urbun will also offer a veggie patty made from quinoa and lentils and "Let's be Frank" grass-fed beef hot dogs. They're scouting the area for a local bakery to make their fresh buns.

Beverages include corn syrup-free Mexican Coca-Cola, all natural soda and freshly squeezed lemonade.

The restaurant will also serve beer and wine. He hopes to serve all California craft brews except for a couple domestics.

The space will also be an homage to its previous use in the 1960s as a Ford dealership. Mainiero is incorporating a garage door element that opens to the outside.

A third generation restaurateur, Mainiero said his father's family had steakhouses all over the Northeast and his parents own several restaurants on the East Coast.

His uncle, John Mangini, owns Urbn and Bar Basic in San Diego and is a partner in the new business.

The green movement is becoming mainstream, he said, and people are realizing that a healthy, natural meal doesn't have to dent the wallet.

"I think it's been a myth for a while that being natural isn't affordable," he said.

Mainiero, who grew up in Connecticut and Florida, said he is looking forward to putting a modern twist on the classic American burger stand.

Urbun Natural Burger is aiming to open by early May.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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