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Excited Hoosiers wait hours for Indy's first 'California Burger'

Restaurant launched on New Year's Day
Posted at 12:18 AM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 00:18:15-05

INDIANAPOLIS — On the west side of Indianapolis, a new restaurant is attracting a lot of attention.

"California Burger is good bro! I'm telling you if the hospitality stays the same it's getting ready to shut down a whole bunch of burger joints around here," said one customer.

At any given hour of the day the line for California Burger is wrapped around the building and flowing onto 16th Street. Owner Bashar Hugais says the line has been like this since they opened their doors on Jan. 1.

"People told us all the time that this wouldn't work out. That a burger restaurant in this particular area, across from a McDonald's wouldn't work out, and it's been the complete opposite," Hugais said.

Without doing any advertising except for an Instagram page with just over a dozen posts, California Burger is capturing the attention of customers who in some cases are waiting over an hour just to get a taste of a Philly Steak Sandwich or one of the more than 20 cook-to-order burgers.

"I got me a double burger, with bacon. You know, some fries, and two chicken sandwiches," said a customer leaving the drive-thru after waiting more than an hour.

While the first month of business appears to be a success, Hugais and his co-owner brother weren't always sure opening a restaurant in a pandemic was a good idea. Just totally gutting and renovating this former Taco Bell into a restaurant with a California vibe was a challenge by itself.

"There were so many jobs like construction work that we needed to get done, and we'd call some of them and some of them would tell us that they couldn't work due to the pandemic, that they weren't comfortable to do the job," Hugais said.

Despite the odds, the restaurant is up and running and already attracting curiosity and a loyal fan base.

"It lived up to the hype. This is my second time this week," a customer said.

California Burger is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.