Black-and-white photos of the original Swensons show signs advertising "hamburg sandwiches," and that will be the focus of American Grind, with a hamburg, cheeseburg and veggieburg listed as the first three menu options. But Schwartz departs from fast-food standards by utilizing local producers and Colorado farmers for beef, produce, buns and other key ingredients. "We're trying to break away from that national food system and tie into a local one," Gianinetti notes. "A burger should be different depending on where you're at" — a notion that's completely the opposite of the uniformity and consistency preached by national burger chains over the past fifty years.
Rolling Pin Bakeshop, a new bakery in Five Points that makes challah buns just for American Grind.
Gianinetti says that Western Daughters grinds beef for American Grind using trimmings from a wide variety of cuts. "We're utilizing all cuts to help them reduce their waste," he explains. There's also an Iowa-style fried-pork sandwich on the menu that uses collar instead of the more traditional loin. "It's pounded thin and beautifully marbled," Schwartz says.
Since Avanti F&B is a restaurant incubator, the American Grind team says it plans to grow once its two-year lease is up. "As a company, we have pretty big dreams for affecting the food community," Gianinetti says. "We're looking at how we can use technology, how we can pay people what they need to be paid — and still put a good burger on the plate."
He adds that he can envision several locations of American Grind, whether in Denver, along the Front Range or in other cities like Portland, Oregon — with each outpost relying on local purveyors for meat and produce.
While the whole team has been part of the menu development since day one (the current veggieburg, made with beets, carrots, sweet potato, chickpeas and chickpea flour, is the result of three years of development), kitchen manager Caitlin Allison will oversee day-to-day operations in the shipping-container kitchen, located on the ground floor of Avanti in the space just vacated by Mijo. In addition to the everyday menu and occasional specials, you'll find happy-hour discounts from 2 to 6 p.m., with $1 off burgers and chili-cheese fries for $5.