First-time restaurateurs Deana & Mike Okun open Burgers & Bakery in Spartanburg
Deana and Mike Okun’s new Spartanburg restaurant had been open three weeks when restaurants statewide were ordered in mid-March to suspend dine-in service due to COVID-19.
The first-time restaurateurs opened Burgers & Bakery in the former Le Spice Restaurant on Warren H. Abernathy Highway early this year. When the pandemic forced restaurant closings across the state, the Okuns – like most restaurant owners – turned to takeout.
“We’re a three-week old restaurant and as such don’t have the reserves to survive this,” the Okuns wrote for a submission for Livin’ Upstate’s #StepUpCarolinas. “We need to sell 40 burgers a day to keep the lights on and our three staff members employed.”
The community did step up. After less than six months of operation, Burgers & Bakery now has five employees and has exceeded the goals outlined in its six-month plan.
“I can’t say enough about how supportive this community has been,” Mike said. “We’re new to this, and I’m sure we’ll have some bumps and bruises along the way, but we’re committed to delicious food and five-star customer service – even if we are a burger joint.”
While the couple have no restaurant experience, they’re no strangers to the kitchen. In the past few years, Deana developed a large local following, baking custom cakes out of their home. And Mike, a corporate trainer by day, enjoys dining at all types of restaurants, reviewing the food, the dining experience and especially the customer service.
“We’re massive foodies and we were customers of Le Spice,” Mike said. “We loved coming here and the feel of the place, so when it came up for sale, we talked about it and decided to give it a try.”
The Burgers & Bakery concept marries unique burgers served on home baked buns with numerous desserts inspired by Central Asia, Europe and the United States.
The restaurant offers eight burgers from a classic hamburger and cheeseburger to more interesting varieties such as The Kevin Spicy, a third pound Sriracha infused patty with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and Sriracha Aioli.
Then, there are burgers suggested by and named after Burgers & Bakery employees. The Zachary Jack, for example, is a third-pound patty topped with pepper jack melted over fries with grilled onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions.
In addition to home baked buns – including a new hot “spicy” bun, Deana prepares eight to 12 artesian desserts for sale at the restaurant each day. Pulling from a portfolio of specialties like 17 different cheesecakes, Russian crème cake, cobblers and more, Deana bakes all of her desserts from scratch, using only fresh fruits and other ingredients.
“Our buns and desserts are made fresh every day and we don’t freeze any of our meats,” says Deana, who is the restaurant’s executive chef.
But Burgers & Bakery is not just burgers and sweets. The restaurant offers small-batch soups, chicken salad crafted using an old family recipe and hand-cut home fries. And Sunday brunch features Deana’s version of homemade buttermilk biscuits.
“We never thought in a million years that we’d be opening a restaurant,” Mike says. “The growth we’ve seen in Spartanburg the last three-and-a-half years we’ve lived here has been nothing short of spectacular. We feel that now is the right time to give back to our friends and neighbors and what better way to do that than through the gift of food.”
Want to visit?
Burgers & Bakery, 8881 Warren H. Abernathy Hwy, Spartanburg, SC 29301, (864) 310-4495
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
To view lunch, dinner and breakfast menus, click here.