FLIP burger boutique (stylized as FLIP) is an upscale full-service American restaurant based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company opened its first restaurant in West Midtown, Atlanta in 2008, and has since opened three additional locations, one in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, one in Birmingham, Alabama, and one in Nashville, Tennessee. The restaurant has been generally well received by food critics for its ambiance and food, though there has been criticism that the restaurant is "overdone". It has been credited as increasing competition among hamburger restaurants in Atlanta.
Barry Mills conceived the restaurant's concept as wanting to expand the definition of a what he thought was a hamburger. He sought inspiration from the new growth of hamburger eateries in Los Angeles and New York City, yet disliked their approaches, thinking it would hinder innovation—being bound to a traditional diner-style burger.
Flip opened an outlet at The Summit in Birmingham, Alabama on December 19, 2010. Ron Stewart, one of the owners of the first Atlanta franchise, was born and raised in Birmingham. The company then opened an outlet on October 19, 2010 in Buckhead, Atlanta, at the Tuxedo Festival Shopping Center. Mills used architecture firm ai3 to design the interior of the restaurants.
The chain hoped to open a location in Washington, D.C. in the Penn Quarter in early 2010, but was unable to negotiate a lease. New York City and Miami have also been noted as potential sites for new outlets. Mills has stated that although its prices would rise, the chain should be able to expand throughout the United States.
The menu includes eighteen different hamburger variations. Side orders include vodka-battered onion rings, French fries, fried pickles, sweet potato tater tots, potato salad, pan roasted Brussels sprouts, and thai bouli. Several specialty milkshakes, such as the Krispy Kreme milkshake in which doughnuts comprise half the drink, are also offered. Liquid nitrogen is used to prepare the milkshakes.
FLIP burger boutique has been generally well received by food critics. For example, Food & Wine journalist Dana Cowin wrote that "Richard Blais's 'burger boutique' is mod, ambitious and delicious." Wine & Spirits writer Krista Reese praised the pricing of the menu and its unique ingredients. And The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the menu as "fun", allowing Blais to "play with the whimsical goofiness that makes him, well, him." ' The architecture and the atmosphere of the chain's restaurants have also been lauded.
However, there are also negative reviews. Creative Loafing in December 2010 called the food at FLIP's Buckhead location "overly salty, overly sweet, overly complicated, overcooked, overfried and just overdone," with "fried sides that tasted of leadened fried bread". Critic Jennifer Zyman noted: "each burger tastes as if someone said, 'Dude, let's figure out a way to cram a bunch of crap on one plate so the diner can't identify a single ingredient.'" Furthermore the newspaper remarked that the decor, as a "carbon copy" of the original Westside location, "except slightly larger," was "somehow less cool as a result." In the same month, Christian Lauterback in Knife & Fork called the Buckhead location "silly and expensive." Lauterbach characterized FLIP's approach as "heaping on garnishes and condiments and finishing everything with sugar" to ensure that patrons "can't taste anything." She also criticized a "stupefyingly bad" osso bucco burger with marrow-naise and gremolata.
FLIP burger boutique has been credited for initiating and increasing competition in the restaurant scene in Atlanta, particularly among restaurants specializing in hamburgers. Jon Watson of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the phenomenon "burger wars," and wrote that although the city "had plenty of fantastic hamburger joints that had been in business for years before Flip opened their doors, Blais' celebrity combined with his left-of-center cooking techniques and wildly creative burger selection stirred up a foodie frenzy. I might even go so far as to call it a 'hoopla'."