Jurassic Grill brings new era of burgers to campus

Jurassic Grill’s specialty, the  Brontosaurus Burger with Cajun Fries. The burger features two 1/4 lb. patties, one egg, ham, bacon, and any desired toppings.

By Lillian Barkley

Quality burgers in Campustown are not extinct, and The Empanadas House isn’t either. 

Jurassic Grill on Green Street officially opened on Dec. 1, with a new menu and plans for the future. The space was previously occupied by The Empanandas House, and though the name has changed, the owner has stayed the same, along with a selection of its menu. 

Juan Olarte opened The Empanadas House in September. Though he said the restaurant was doing well, he admitted: “it’s not a very well-known product in the American market. We realized that this location is a great location but that 95 percent of the market of customers are students.” 

With that in mind, Olarte began talking to students. He found out they wanted “a very good burger place, they wanted hot dogs – Chicago-style.” he said. 

Students provided names of popular restaurants, such as Portillo’s, to give him an idea of the menu they wanted. He then took their input a step further. 

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“We had several different names, and we made them decide what’s the best, and they said that ‘Jurassic’ is cool, an attractive and catchy name,” Olarte said. 

The name also allows Olarte to be creative with promotions, decorations and menu items. 

Most of the menu selections are named after dinosaurs. The classic “T-Rex Burger,” for example, is a double burger, while the “Compy” is a single cheeseburger, named after the small dinosaur from “Jurassic Park.” The newest item to start selling this week, the “Brontosaurus Burger” layers two 1/4 lb patties, one egg, ham, bacon, and any desired toppings. 

The toppings are a large part of the grill’s model: Over 15 free toppings are available, including those which would normally cost extra, such as grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and fresh jalapenos. Different types of cheese, such as gouda and provolone, will also be offered. 

With other Green Street competitors like Wendy’s and McDonald’s, Olarte says he is using quality to his advantage, with high quality meat, fresh bread and huge portions. 

When the restaurant soft opened with a limited menu in early November, burgers and fries were the only offerings. But after listening to requests, Olarte plans on adding hot dogs, sandwiches, chili cheese fries and chicken wings. Also, despite the name-change, empanadas are still available. 

“When we opened Jurassic Grill, a lot of customers came asking for empanadas,” Olarte explained. 

The sign for Empanadas House is still in the window, right next to the new Jurassic Grill logo. Five of the most popular empanada flavors will be offered every day, including the spinach and feta and Bombay hot. They are working on improving their items with a better recipe for dough and new flavors, Olarte said. 

Juan’s flair for empanadas comes from Argentina, where he started his first two restaurants eight years ago before moving to the United States to be with his wife.

For those looking for the full menu of empanadas, customers can still visit the Empanada House food truck or use their catering option.  

Though Jurassic Grill has only been open for a few weeks, they have gotten great feedback, he said. 

Chelsea Fry, junior in Social Work, was one such satisfied customer. 

“It was awesome! I’ve always been a fan of quality burgers,” she said. “You’re so used to burger joints where you’re not even sure what their ingredients are.”

Fry, her boyfriend and her roommate have been back at least two times to Jurassic Grill and have plans to frequent the grill. 

“We’re very happy they’re around, because it’s very hard to find a good burger joint in Campustown,” she said.

She compared the product to Five Guys, but said it was quicker and much more affordable. 

She also said that Olarte was “so friendly, so excited, and so passionate about what he does and you can tell that he just wants to deliver quality food.” 

While she said she would try items from the expanded menu, she was content with the small, well-executed menu already available. 

“They’ve already won my business,” she said. 

Jurassic Grill will be open every day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m. The entire menu will also be available for delivery from GrubHub and EatCU. 

As time goes on, Olarte plans to continue defining the menu and restaurant as a whole, utilizing the opinions of students through all of Jurassic Grill’s future evolutions. 

Lillian can be reached at [email protected].