Cambridge will soon welcome a new restaurant to the Inman Square neighborhood: WuBurger Gourmet kicks off service on May 2, debuting its burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and boozy milkshakes, as previously reported.
Deepak Diwan and Kal Gullapalli have spent months building out the restaurant and developing some new menu items, and they are finally ready to open the doors and feed guests food that is "consciously sourced and crafted with love."
"The original WuBurger is a retro '50s diner feel, and we were kind of forced into that," said Diwan, referring to the duo's first WuBurger in Woburn. "Coming into this neighborhood — it being a little more eclectic, a little more eccentric — we wanted to bring in some earth tones. We thought lighting was going to be super important."
They worked with Katie Goodrich of Ivory & Bone to change up the interior of the restaurant to cater to how they wanted to grow the brand. One of those interior touches is the reclaimed wood from New Hampshire that lines the walls, along with the extra effort the pair put into making the restaurant their own space.
"Clean the place out, totally fresh take," Diwan said. In its former life, 1128 Cambridge St. was East by Northeast, a well-liked neighborhood spot that operated for five years before closing.
"For us, we wanted a clean start. This is a new concept, new compared to what East by Northeast was. We're totally, totally different," Diwan said. "We take simple American classics and we just do them to the best of our ability."
WuBurger makes its sauces in-house and has a number of special additions to its menu for the Inman Square restaurant, including a Peter Luger-inspired thick-cut bacon appetizer, served with a fried egg and toasted ciabatta.
The pair brings years of hospitality experience into this latest venture — Gullapalli had worked in Manhattan and as a butcher on Long Island, and Diwan worked in Washington, D.C. and Chicago and trained in Europe. Upon settling in the Greater Boston area, they operated a Lisa's Family Pizzeria location, and they later developed the concept for the original WuBurger at 880 Main St. in Woburn, which opened in September 2015.
That location doesn't serve alcohol, but it does serve 34 flavors of ice cream in a fast-casual environment. The Inman Square location will feature just two of these flavors — served alongside their house-made doughnuts and, of course, in their boozy milkshakes. The restaurant has a full bar and will offer full-service, sit-down dining, with a takeout option as well.
"Where our food is approachable and relatively affordable, we wanted our cocktail menu to reflect that as well, but still provide quality," Diwan said. As part of the alcohol options, WuBurger will offer adult milkshakes like the Maple Bourbon Haze, made with coffee liqueur, maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, and bacon, and the Orange Alexander, made with brandy, orange liqueur, honey, and chocolate ice cream.
Introducing the Maple Haze. Omg! It might be too good . #BoozyMilkshakes filled with #fourrosesbourbon #cafelolitacoffeeliqueur #maplesyrup Vanilla ice cream Milk topped with pecans and a maple syrup drizzle. Get ready to indulge #inmansquare #cambridgema #bostonfoodies #bostoncocktails #wuburgergourmet
"We want it to be somewhere that's approachable, fresh, but you can bring your kids, or if you want to come with your friends or on a date," Diwan said. "I think that our cocktail menu reflects that as well. We went with classic cocktails as opposed to craft. We're just gonna do them our way and try to do them to the best of our ability."
The food menu consists of a variety of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, appetizers, and salads, plus sides like waffle fries and chili.
"We wanted to give a couple more options here," Diwan said. "We have the veggie burger up there and the eggplant sandwich, but then we added a cool vegetarian appetizer."
Any new menu items will get their test run in Inman, and if they work out, Diwan and Gullapalli may decide to bring them to the Woburn location.
"While we want the personality of each store to reflect the neighborhood; there's a certain brand and integrity to that brand that we have to kind of maintain," Diwan said.
All the staff for the new location trained up in Woburn and is familiar with the business, its principles, and its menu. Overall, Diwan said about 90 percent of the menu is the same as Woburn's but with a couple tweaks to cater to sit-down dining. Their food will also be available for take-out, and eventually for delivery, once WuBurger settles into a groove.
"People can come in and get their stuff to go in less than eight minutes," Gullapalli said.
When they were considering where to expand, Diwan and Gullapalli were attracted to Inman Square because of its wealth of great restaurants, and they saw an opening for their approachable comfort food.
"It's a place where people can come in here and feed a family of four for a very affordable price," Gullapalli said. "I don't think people call it this, but it's like Restaurant Row — it's where you kinda want to be," he said.
They mentioned places like Muqueca, Lone Star, Loyal Nine, Puritan & Co., and Bisq, and some of the older residents like The Druid and Bukowski's, as doing great things with their menus. "These guys are staples in the area," Diwan said, "so this is a community we're really happy to join."
Diwan and Gullapalli eventually plan to expand the concept further, but they said they wanted time to let things settle before moving forward. Gullapalli said they hoped to stand out with their boozy milkshakes, their approachability, and their customer service.
"We don't let anyone leave unhappy," he said.