The Big Max began as an off-menu "secret" at Eden Hill's bar. Now it's the namesake for a one-location burger chain.

The burger was the reason Maximillian and Jennifer Petty conceived of Eden Hill Provisions in the first place. Now it’s the reason they’re letting it go.

This week the couple will reopen their Queen Anne restaurant as Big Max Burger Co. “We’re fast fooding it a little bit,” says Max. They’ve added self-order kiosks by the entrance, and a Coke machine on the cocktail bar turned ordering counter.

In some ways, the change enshrines a pandemic pivot: In spring of 2020, Eden Hill Provisions shifted with astonishing speed from a relatively new, exceedingly stylish neighborhood bistro to burger takeout counter. At that point, the Pettys were already planning Big Max as a fast-casual concept. They just didn’t expect its first location to be one they already operated. Ending Eden Hill Provisions is bittersweet, says Max. But after 18 months feeding the neighborhood more than 60,000 house-ground patties, “we can’t go back now.”

The caramel corn brussels sprouts: not going anywhere.

Big Max’s menu isn’t wildly different from the lineup that sustained the Pettys’ business (and sustained the rest of us through our uncertainty) over the past year. The boozy shakes and to-go cocktails remain. The restaurant now has a consistent veggie burger, made with celery root cured and shaved a la pastrami. The Queen Animal, a monster of smoked bacon, avocado, and frizzled onions, dripping with barbecue sauce, is specific to this Big Max location, not that the Pettys have had time to secure any additional locations for their burger concept just yet.

A few combo meals streamline decision-making, as well as prices. “People will not let us take away the brussels sprouts,” says Max of the caramel corn–inspired fried brassicas. The kid-friendly Little Sammy burger has shrunk to a size that can be consumed by an actual child. Turn it into a combo and you’ve got a proper kids meal. Soon, says Max, it will even come with a toy: “Burger stuffies are on the way.”

Coke machine aside, “fast fooding” doesn’t totally describe a spot that went through 50 trials to arrive at its house-ground patty blend. Or where chef David Glass makes his own pickles, barbecue sauce, even ketchup. Don’t even get Max Petty started about all the R&D that went into his chicken nuggets. He also channels those iterative impulses into finer dining at Eden Hill, the couple’s original restaurant up the street. Meanwhile, their Walla Walla project, the Kinglet, will open in January, if the supply chain gods allow.

Big Max Burger Co. will likely fire up its takeout kiosks this week; the dining room will return as soon as the Pettys have a chance to replace tables that took a beating from the heat lamps that preserved all those takeout orders. The social media, however, has already assumed its new identity, and will offer updates on the reopening status.

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