First it was just a month-long pop-up at the Sir John Young Hotel. That was extended to three months. After that the plan was to run until the end of 2016, then there was a brief (but crazy) pop-up in Penrith. Now Hashtag Burgers’ In-N-Out-inspired burger bar, Down N’ Out, is at Sir John Young permanently. The owners have also announced plans to expand to Sydney’s north and south.
“They liked what's happening. We're no longer a pop-up, we'll be here as long as we're needed,” says Hashtag Burgers’ cofounder, Ben Kagan. The only reason Down N’ Out might not be “needed” is the Sir John Young will eventually renovate. “As long as the roadwork is outside [on George Street] the renovations are off the cards. We'd like to stay with them during the renovations. We're always talking to them about things we could do here.”
Until then Kagan, fellow co-founder Archie Saliba and chef Sebastien Cens will work on their new-and-improved menu and the brand’s expansion. “The Penrith store was super successful; we were doing 800–900 burgers a day,” says Kagan of the recent pop-up on High Street. “Because the west went so well, we're looking at doing one in the north, one in the south.” These will be permanent locations he says. “We want to start doing our own shops. It's a lot of work going back and forth doing pop-ups.”
The new menu – partially available already – introduces some distinctly non-In-N’-Out-inspired items. “We've got some popcorn chicken now. We'll also do loaded fried chicken; we'll be mixing up the toppings, sometimes bacon, things like that. It will be a revolving menu item,” says Kagan.
The original In-N-Out-inspired burgers have been shaken up, too. “We've made our patties bigger and we've used slightly different flavours. We had some criticism that the meat-to-bun ratio was off, so we wanted to beef the patties up. We'll use slightly different cheese as well.” It will be thicker, higher-melt cheese to balance out the new patties.
Down N’ Out
Sir John Young Hotel, 557 George Street, Sydney
Hours: Mon to Thu, Sat 12pm–3pm, 5pm–9pm Fri 11.30am–3pm, 5pm–9pm