Most people would think that after running the immensely successful Italian restaurant Bambino’s for 30 years, Suzette and Kevin Megyeri would look towards either expanding their on-going project or retiring.
Instead, the husband and wife team decided to downsize and devised the idea of downtown Colorado Springs’ newest burger restaurant, The Skirted Heifer.
“Bambino’s is huge. When we opened, we were both 20 years old, and it was really small. As time passed and we kept growing, my husband made the joke that every time I got pregnant and expanded, the restaurant also expanded,” said Mrs. Megyeri. “I felt like we were too big. I missed that tiny place we started off with.”
The Skirted Heifer, located at 204 North Tejon Street, is just that. It seats only 20 people, and is no larger than 700 square feet.
Despite the small space, the Megyeris have managed to create richly flavored food grounded in sustainable, homemade ingredients and consistently have a line out the door.
“We serve on average 150 burgers a day, which far surpasses our projected 50. Within the first week, we couldn’t sweep the floor there were so many people,” said Mrs. Megyeri. “Part of my culinary interest is being homemade and from scratch. That is how Bambino’s is, and that is how The Skirted Heifer is. It’s rewarding, but not easy.”
All of their frozen custards, pickles, condiments, and sauces – including their special Heifer sauce made from ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle juice – are made in house; they use the homemade pizza dough from Bambino’s for their garlic focaccia bun, and black beans for the quinoa burger is their only canned ingredient.
Not to mention, all their beef is grass-fed from Music Meadows Ranch in Westcliffe, Colorado.
“We were raised with the corn-fed cow idea. I was told that Colorado cows were skinny because it’s so dry, and so the grass-fed beef didn’t have the flavor or marbling,” said Mrs. Megyeri. “As I talked to more farmers, they all said we needed to use grass-fed. Many of them recommended Music Meadows, so we did some more research.”
In comparing Music Meadows with other local ranches and a generic food purveyor, the Megyeris concluded that there was just no competition.
“I tasted her beef, learned about the different omega fats from cows not eating GMO corn feed, and realized how it is so much better for us,” said Mrs. Megyeri. “Even though the price point is higher, we knew the profit margin had to take a hit so that we could serve a great product.”
The casual eatery allows for customers to create their own beef, turkey, or quinoa burger from a list of 20 toppings ranging from the conventional tomato-lettuce- onion to the more adventurous pesto, pueblo chiles, or Cajun spice.
Any burger can be made “skirted,” meaning a layer of cheddar cheese encircles the beef as it cooks on the griddle, adding an extra, salty crunch to the assortment of toppings.
Customers also have the option to choose from one of eight pre-constructed burgers, in addition to two types of fries and house-made potato chips.
The Megyeris are aware, though, of the new, yet experienced competition, Pueblo’s Bingo Burgers, projected to open downtown in May.
“We were already two weeks into construction when Bingo’s announced their move. We know we just need a superior product,” said Mrs. Megyeri. “So far it’s working. People really, really like it, CC kids included. I didn’t know if students would veer off the meal plan, but they seemed to have taken notice, which is just so fun.”