Burgermeisters: Why There Won’t Be a Signature Burger at New Restaurants Alden & Harlow and Kirkland Tap & Trotter


Photograph by Ted Morrison. Styling by Jessica Weatherhead/Team.

A signature burger can make the reputation of a restaurant these days, but there can be a downside to developing a wildly popular, singular creation. Once you have a winner on your hands, it’s tough to remove it from the menu—or even simply change the thing up—without causing an uproar.

Which is why, when chefs Michael Scelfo, formerly of Russell House Tavern, and Tony Maws, of Craigie on Main, began planning new restaurants (in early fall, Scelfo’s Alden & Harlow opens in Harvard Square, and this month, Maws’s Kirkland Tap & Trotter opens in Somerville), they wondered whether they should feature burgers at all.

In the end, both chefs settled on the same solution: They would rotate several burgers on the menu, to avoid developing just one signature offering. “We are not going to be married to one type of cheese, we are not going to be married to one type of meat,” Maws says of his new spot. “The Craigie burger is going to stay at Craigie.” Alden & Harlow, meanwhile, will serve burgers in permutations ranging from a turkey patty with green curry and avocado to ground beef piled high with pulled pork and onion rings, or fried clams and tartar sauce (all pictured above). “I didn’t want to have an ego about it and say that I wasn’t going to offer a burger at all,” Scelfo says. “Now that I have my own place…I can do whatever I want. I might as well do that all the time.”