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Bay Area Burger Co. looks to ‘smash’ the competition

Brick-and-mortar location recently opened on Broadway in Green Bay

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January 26, 2023

GREEN BAY – Cole Ductan, Bay Area Burger Co. Restaurant + Bar owner, said he learned a thing or two about opening a business and renovating a building during the last two years.

“I watched a lot of YouTube videos,” he laughed. “I didn’t realize so much work would go into it and everything I needed to do beforehand.”

Housed in the former Monzu Bakery at 126 S. Broadway in Green Bay, Bay Area Burger recently opened its first brick-and-mortar location – more than a year after first announcing the move.

Though the doors to the Broadway location just opened, the business itself had been in operation for a few years in a different form.

“I started Bay Area Burger in the winter of 2020 as a food truck, specializing in smash burgers,” he said. “So far with the opening (of the brick-and-mortar location), it’s going great – staying busy. I think we’ll blow my sales expectations out of the water, so I’m happy about that. From what I’ve been told, customers are happy.”

Though opening a permanent location has always been a part of his long-term vision, Ductan said opening Bay Area Burger took a bit longer than anticipated.

“Even before I ran the food truck, there was nothing available (to move into),” he said. “In June 2021, I started looking at places – I wanted to be on Broadway or Washington in downtown Green Bay. I looked at about 10 places but couldn’t find anything until settling on this location in November 2021.”

Ductan said that’s when the real work began.

“The building definitely wasn’t move-in ready,” he said. “When I moved in, it was a big, empty rectangle – it’s been a process. I figured I’d be able to open in February 2022, but that didn’t happen.”

Because the interior of the 1,700-square-foot space needed so much work, Ductan said he searched for contractors to complete the renovation.

“I struggled to find anyone – I thought it was going to be easy to find contractors, but it wasn’t,” he said. 

Ductan said that led to him doing much of the work himself.

Bay Area Burger Co. owner Cole Ductan, middle, stands with his family and crew members. Rich Palzewic Photo

“I gutted this place – new ceiling, walls, floors, etc.,” he said. “I contracted out the plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Everything in here is new except for the brick.”

Ductan said that’s where the YouTube videos came in handy.

He said he also received advice from his dad who is a journeyman.

“My dad was doing a lot of work outside the area, so he couldn’t physically help me with much inside the building,” he said. “I don’t think I had a hammer in here until like March or April (2022). Many contractors were busy and couldn’t take the job. Even with the plumbers and electricians, they had to fit me in between other jobs.”

Ductan said because he put so much work into making the physical location a reality, it makes it more special.

“Opening a business is a feat in itself,” he said. “When you can say, ‘I literally built this business with my own two hands,’ that’s even more awesome. I’ve been to the emergency room with nails in my foot – I’ve been through the wringer here. There have been some sleepless nights.”
Smash burger
Ductan said Bay Area Burger is most famous for its smash burger – a burger patty smashed between two pounds of cast iron and topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, mayo and mustard on a brioche bun.

“A smash burger has been around for years,” he said. “There are different versions of it. Many people tell me they can’t get it to turn out like we can. I tell them, ‘You have to smash it thinner than you think.’”

The menu includes a single or double-smashed burger option, a “Plain Jane” with just the bun and patty, a beyond burger for vegans, grilled cheese, shoestring fries and cheese curds.

“I like to give people options, but the menu – with a few additional things – is pretty much what you’ll get,” he said. “I might add a chicken sandwich in the future, but I don’t plan on adding much more.”
Future expansion
Ductan said he has plans to open additional restaurants and offer more services to the existing space, which includes after-hours options.

“I’m working on getting a service window put in for after-hours,” he said. “I’m not quite sure of the details yet, but the idea is to have food available after we close the restaurant. Maybe it’s from 9-11 p.m. to catch the late-night crowd before they go out to the bars.”

Ductan said in the next five or 10 years, he hopes to own other restaurants in the Green Bay area.

Bay Area Burger Co. recently opened a brick-and-mortar location at 126 S. Broadway in Green Bay. Rich Palzewic Photo

“Maybe they won’t be like this one,” he said. “I want to do one more quick-service spot in a different part of town – maybe a drive-thru, no bar, no servers – quick.”

Ductan said his ideas don’t stop there.

“From there, expand out and do fine casual – maybe 30 or 40-seat dining that is more my background style,” he said. “I’m hoping this is just the start – I don’t do anything small.”

Bay Area Burger is currently open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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