A new burger joint will open at RDU, and it’ll serve something you couldn’t get at Five Guys

Raleigh-Durham International Airport lost a burger restaurant when Five Guys closed in February, but another will open in its place this summer.

BurgerFi, the eight-year-old chain based in Florida, is scheduled to begin serving burgers, hot dogs and frozen custard in Terminal 2 in July. It will be at least the fourth BurgerFi in North Carolina, after restaurants in Raleigh, Cary and Hickory.

Sales at the RDU Five Guys were “on budget,” said Lana Cramer, spokeswoman for SSP America, the company leasing the space. But SSP thinks it can do better with BurgerFi, Cramer said, in part because the restaurant will sell beer, wine and mixed drinks.

“BurgerFi gives us an ability to add a bar, which we felt was an added service that RDU passengers would welcome,” she said in an interview.

SSP operates bars, restaurants and food markets in airports around the world, including the Jason’s Deli adjacent to the old Five Guys space. The BurgerFi at RDU will be the company’s first, Cramer said.

BurgerFi is what’s known in the business as a “better burger” restaurant, often mentioned among chains such as Smashburger, Shake Shack and Umami Burger. It features fresh, high-quality beef and high-end accessories, such as brioche buns and hand-cut fries, as well as prices two or three times higher than the more ubiquitous fast-food chains.

SSP has found that airline travelers are more likely to treat themselves and are looking for more than a Big Mac or a Whopper at the airport, Cramer said.

“Better burger is obviously a huge trend,” she said. “And we’re always looking for burger partners, because it’s one of the top-selling items in the airport environment.”

Eight other restaurants also serve hamburgers at RDU, including ACC American Cafe and Char-Grill in Terminal 1.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.