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Greg Hatem’s Square Burger opens in downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square this weekend

Downtown Raleigh’s renovated Moore Square will reopen in August

Moore Square will reopen in August with a cafe, tree house play area and public art
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Moore Square will reopen in August with a cafe, tree house play area and public art

It’ll be a burger stand, not a cafe, feeding visitors at the newly renovated Moore Square.

Now that the fences are down and the construction quieted, the long-awaited reemergence of the downtown Raleigh park brings with it a new restaurant.

Square Burger will open Saturday in the southeast corner of the park as the latest project from Greg Hatem’s Empire Eats restaurant group.

The burger stand plays the hits, with a menu of hamburgers, hot dogs, milkshakes and fries. There’s the requisite Carolina burger and hot dog, dressed with chili, slaw, mustard and onions.

As the name may suggest, the burgers and even the burger buns will be square at Square Burger, Hatem said Tuesday in a phone interview.

“We wanted to do something special with Moore Square,” Hatem said. “Something simple. Good beef, cooked well with simple ingredients.”

Beyond the standards, look for salads, grilled cheese, veggie burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.

As the park’s only building, Square Burger is all wood, stone and glass, with diners ordering from a side window or inside the dining room. The square will have outdoor seating, and the burger stand will sell beer and wine, which can be consumed anywhere within the confines of Moore Square.

Hatem has long been tied to Raleigh’s plans to renovate Moore Square, with Empire Eats winning a city bid in 2016 to run the park’s new cafe. He imagined burgers would always be a part of whatever concept eventually opened in the part, but that eventually it became the focal point.

“We distilled it down to focus just on burgers and hot dogs and a few healthy options,” Hatem said. “The first thing is to keep it simple and make it great. Burgers are comfort food and should be fun.”

As one of downtown Raleigh’s most prolific restaurateurs, this is the company’s ninth restaurant. Hatem’s other spots include Raleigh Times, The Pit, Pizza Times and others. Last year he took over The Mecca, the city’s oldest restaurant, which News & Observer dining critic Greg Cox awarded three and a half stars in his latest review.

In a release, Empire Eats said that the all of Square Burger’s August profits will be donated to the a food pantry and Backpack Buddies program at Moore Square Middle School, about 50 yards from the new restaurant. The programs help address issues of food insecurity in the school.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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