Another new business has opened its doors in Santa Clara. Konjoe Burger Bar, which has a location in San Pedro Square Market and held its grand opening on Apr. 21, has opened as part of the Monticello Apartment complex off Lawrence Expressway and Monroe Street.
According to owner and Santa Clara University alumni Joey Camacho, the burger bar concept came about because of a need at San Pedro Square Market. Camacho said he didn’t originally intend to open a burger restaurant, but was coaxed into it by the market’s landlord and, as he says, “the rest is history.”
“Konjoe Burger is different than most other burgers because we have put a lot of thought into the product,” says Camacho. “Our bun is custom made by Elite Bakery in Union City. All of the meats that we use are sustainably raised. I have done a lot of research in trying to understand where and how the meats are raised because I think that plays a huge role in the taste of the product. Lastly, we use a lot of Asian ingredients in our cooking, but try to stay true to what we do. I spent a year working on the initial menu of the restaurant, which consisted of six items, and we have spent the past four and a half years trying to improve on those recipes. We don’t put anything on the menu until the entire team feels that it’s perfect.”
Camacho, who attended culinary school and worked in kitchens in Guam, Hawaii and California, says he has wanted to have a restaurant in Santa Clara, but was unable to find the right location. Once he saw renderings of the Monticello project, he knew it would be the perfect place for his second restaurant. And, while he hopes to someday expand the brand further, his current focus remains on building his business and menu in Santa Clara.
“Most individuals would say that Japan has the best food in the world and that is attributed to each chef’s dedication to their trade,” he says. “When I opened this restaurant, I told myself that I would bring that same level of dedication to a burger restaurant. Our team is constantly striving to improve our products and we are constantly in talks with our vendors on how to make our products better and more consistent.”
In addition to being the only restaurant using the Elite Bakery burger bun, Camacho buys local products, sourcing Konjoe’s custom ground Antique Beef and British Baldy blend from Creamco Meats in Oakland, poultry from Mary’s Free-Range Chicken in Hanford and cured meats from Oakland’s Keller Crafted Meats. And, while Camacho says his most popular item is the Konjoe Burger with lettuce, fried egg, caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, jack cheese and Konjoe sauce, his personal favorite is the kid’s cheeseburger.
“My current favorite is actually the kid’s cheeseburger,” he says, “because I do enjoy foods for their simplicity. If I were to order off the signature burger menu, I would choose the Shiitake Jack with bacon cooked medium rare. There’s something about the mushroom, jalapeno and bacon combination that makes me gravitate toward this burger.”
Throughout the next few months, Camacho hopes to add a fried chicken dish and fish and chips to the menu and says he plans to rotate menu items every so often so his team can push their creativity. The restaurant, which offers tater tots, breakfast items and ice cream floats unique to Santa Clara’s location, has been receiving high marks with customers, something Camacho attributes to the people he has hired to work for him.
“I attribute our success to our staff,” he says. “A restaurant can’t be successful without a great staff. We all work really hard every day to make sure that the customers are getting the best product possible.”
Konjoe Burger Bar is at 3555 Monroe St. Ste. 75. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit www.konjoe.com/burgerbarmonticello for more information.