Fukuburger, the ubiquitous Las Vegas food truck, is set to open a brick-and-mortar location in its hometown, right smack in the middle of the Strip.
“All the people that have always supported us are always asking, ‘Can’t you open something that’s going to be open in the same place every day?’ Now they’ll have a place to visit,” Fuku founder Colin Fukunaga says, “and when they do they can say they knew about Fukuburger before everyone else.”
In May, F.A.M.E.—which stands for Food, Art, Music, Entertainment—will be the next dining destination to open at the Linq, the walkable stretch of streetscape between the Quad and Flamingo casinos that culminates with the 550-foot High Roller observation wheel, which just opened this week.
A two-level, 12,000-square-foot venue operated by Las Vegas-based HIG Management, F.A.M.E. will feature a clubby Japanese restaurant and lounge upstairs and an Asian market-themed eatery downstairs. “You’ll be able to cruise through different stalls and sample different street food from different parts of Asia, like Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam and more,” says project manager Chul Park. “We designed one stall to look like a food truck, because food trucks are a big component of street food these days, no matter what city you’re in.”
The faux truck is planned to host a rotating cast of real food truck concepts, a way to keep F.A.M.E.’s offerings fresh, Park says. “Fukuburger is such a big presence in this city, and we thought it would be special to have a local food truck as the first one to brand that stall.” He says Fukuburger will be present for at least the first few months, though it could stay on longer—even permanently—depending on demand.
Fukunaga said his standard menu will be faithfully recreated at F.A.M.E., everything from the beloved Tamago Burger and Jazz Fries to the spicy Karai Burger and crispy Chicken Katsu sandwich. “Why change it? It will be the same burger, and we’ll have secret menu [items] and we’ll add a vegetarian option.”
A veteran of the local restaurant scene, Fukunaga launched the truck in 2010, one of the first of a wave of stylized mobile vendors to hit the Vegas streets. (His original partner, Robert “Mags” Magsalin, is no longer with the company.) Fukuburger’s fusion of classic American burgers with bold Asian flavors became an instant hit, and expanding into restaurant form quickly became Fukunaga’s top objective. “That’s always been the dream,” he says. “This is a huge deal, a chance to get our feet wet with a really cool project we couldn’t say no to.”
Fukuburger partnered with LA restaurateur Harry Morton to open a restaurant in Hollywood in 2011, with plans to open more cool burger joints in Southern California and eventually Las Vegas. But that expansion never happened. The deal with Morton is now dead, and the LA restaurant has closed.
Las Vegas is where Fukuburger belongs.
“The Strip is definitely dominated by tourists, but tourists ask locals where they should go. Word of mouth is the best way to discover,” says Park, who believes Fukuburger’s loyal customers and local foodies in general will flock to F.A.M.E. “Fuku is a great brand, with great food, and it’s the kind of thing tourists might want to go off-Strip to find when they’re here. We had a chance to bring that local brand to the Strip.”
Though it’s only been open for a few months, the Linq is already stacked with interesting dining options. “It’s kinda weird but it’s beautiful,” Fukunaga says. “It makes sense. Just walking by on the Strip, you can’t see how deep it is and how cool it is. They’re really hitting it from all different angles. I think tourists and locals are going to have to check it out, at least once, because of the wheel, and the more food-centric people are going to seek it out.”
Fuku-fam will be there. That’s for certain.