In early March of 2020, Matt Yilmaz was set to open his first Hamilton restaurant.
Then COVID-19 hit.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t have bothered if I had known the process would be this difficult.”
6 months and 16 days later, Matt’s Burger Lab Hamilton celebrated its grand opening on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 201 Ottawa St N.
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Yilmaz operates two other restaurants, both in Toronto, and says he always wanted to enter the Hamilton market.
“I had been to Hamilton twice before and the vibe was really nice,” Yilmaz told inthehammer.com. “I didn’t see many North American-style restaurants that also sold Halal meat so it seemed like a good opportunity.”
Matt’s Burger Lab is a science-themed, family-friendly restaurant that satisfies different tastes and dietary needs. The menu also has three vegan burger options.
“The burger is the most famous meal in North America, but a lot of Muslims who want to eat local cuisine can’t go to most of the burger places in Hamilton,” continued Yilmaz, who is both an owner and a head chef at his restaurants. “But now they can come to eat at our restaurant.”
It was touch-and-go for a while, though. Yilmaz says paid first and last month’s rent, only to be shut down due to COVID.
“We weren’t even allowed to hammer one nail until June,” said Yilmaz. “But we have a really great landlord. She didn’t ask for any additional rent during the lockdown.”
Matt’s Burger Lab Hamilton offers a classic beef burger, as well as lab-inspired selections like the Quantum, the DNA, and the Big Bang —which consists of two beef patties, cheddar cheese, a crusted portobello mushroom, crusted mozzarella, beef bacon, guacamole, salsa, tomato, lettuce, and smoked chipotle between two grilled cheese buns.