Brothers Matt and Tom Shaw started Hoodburger two and a half years ago, often cooking in alleyways and behind bars and nightclubs. Tiger Bao in Northbridge followed after the duo grew tired of pop-up life and wanted to try something different. After several aborted attempts to find a home for Hoodburger, Tiger Bao has now been permanently replaced by its predecessor.
“It was never meant to be a brand, it was just the name of a Facebook event,” says Matt. “We called it Hoodburger after the [1997 comedy] movie Good Burger. We got the opportunity to do more pop-ups in the city and that’s when we needed a brand. We just named it that and kept going.”
The brothers say the new store’s branding and menu are a "love letter" to fast-food chains of the ’80s and ’90s, but with a strong emphasis on quality. They have been operating a regular “test kitchen” over the past few months, alerting customers-in-the-know about new recipes via social media.
“We’ve always made crazy burgers, but we want to move away from the stunt-burger vibe and offer something more considered,” says Matt. “Our whole operation has been pretty much us drinking beers behind a nightclub, making burgers. We’re going to become more professional. This is very much a coming of age.”
The core menu features 10 burgers, including the tribute Big Mack and Ribwich creations that proved a hit in the test kitchen. The spicy cheeseburger includes a Carolina Reaper ketchup, and imported ingredients such as Çhicago-style “sport peppers” and McClure’s pickles from Detroit are available to add on.
Breakfast is a significant addition to Hoodburger’s offering; the menu is inspired by familiar (Mc)muffins. Imported American soft drinks, and shakes and sundaes made from malted milk soft serve cater for the sweeter tooth.
Tiger Bao fans need not mourn forever because the brand is likely to make a reappearance. The test kitchen will also continue if only to keep things fun for the brothers, who say they are grateful for the ongoing public support.
“I think people respond to it because it’s genuine,” says Matt. “We don’t have money, we’ve grown this ourselves. We’re the happiest we’ve ever been with our product. We always try to give people the best that we can. That’s our philosophy.”