Opening September 21 in Ballard: The Counter, an upscale burger chain out of Culver City, California, with locations from New Zealand to Salt Lake City to Ireland. The Counter offers more than 312,120 possible combinations from its build-your-own-burger menu; ingredients include hormone and antibiotic-free fresh Angus beef, housemade vegan burgers, and "specialty seafood burgers" with options of 10 cheeses, 28 toppings, 18 sauces, and three types of buns. What's that? You want some annoying advertising copy?

Anti-Established in 2003, The Counter® is the 21st century’s bold answer to the classic burger joint. Ushering in a fresh era of industrial decor, today’s music, cold beer, unique wines, cocktails, and burger options that are only limited by your imagination.

Ballard already has its own locally owned, build-your-own-burger-from-mind-boggling-numbers-of-artisan-options spot, Lunchbox Laboratory. Chef/owner Scott Simpson said by phone he's had a The Counter burger before: "It was pretty good." They do a charbroiled burger, he says, so the taste will be different, but he noted that the prices are similar and that it's a similar operation overall to Lunchbox Laboratory. He sounded philosophical about the "huge corporate chain," as he put it. "They might put us out of business," he said, "then that's another locally owned place that's gone. We'll see." But! He also says Lunchbox Laboratory may be moving to a different neighborhood anyway—the building it's in is falling apart, and they're looking for a new location. "They wanted to come here to battle us," he said, "but we might be gone."

Eat local, dammit! Lunchbox Laboratorys fine foods.
  • DREW MCKENZIE
  • Eat local, dammit! Lunchbox Laboratory's fine foods.