“Why not 30 days?”
Chef David Myers delivered this rhetorical with the gusto and affirmation of Babe Ruth calling his home run shot. For the celebrity chef and successful restaurateur, this declaration was all at once decisive and serene, intention clothed in confidence.
As a chef that counts a Michelin star and multiple restaurants around the globe as some of his many accolades, the challenge of opening one in the span of 30 days is another glistening win that means so much more given the strenuous circumstances the pandemic has wrought on everyone, especially the restaurant industry.
“There was nothing to do, people were out of work, spaces were going empty, people were unhappy. This was a moment where I can maybe make a difference. Maybe we can put some smiles on people's faces, get them jobs, put some money in their pockets, and do a little bit of good — so let’s just do it!”
Though Chef Myers is a decorated and expert restaurateur, establishing restaurants in Toyko, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Sydney, even the ambition of opening one in 30 days presented itself as a mountainous undertaking.
“For us to open a restaurant in general, it takes us 9 months, A to Z. And that’s at a good pace with no major hiccups, everything hitting at the target time frame of being completed. This was a complete unknown and it was a complete unknown because it’s a pandemic, it’s a new concept, and it’s in an area we never opened before," acknowledged Myers. However, momentum swung fortuitously in his direction once a target was established. "Let’s focus on what the end result is, which is let’s get people jobs, let’s get a place open for business, and let’s provide some happiness for some people. Once we got focused on that goal, people really got on board and it helped clear away all the nonsense that’s usually involved.”
This general spirit of making things happen, along with equal parts community-driven enthusiasm, resulted in Adrift Burger Bar opening in November of 2020. And with that came the return of one of Los Angeles' most iconic burgers. Myers achieved critical acclaim for the burger served at his West Hollywood restaurant, Comme Ça, almost a decade ago and reclaims that with a whole focus on it at Adrift.
“It is a burger-focused restaurant that starts with the burger that really put me on the map as a chef — which is the DM Burger."
A masked Myers described the DM Burger to me with a reverent joy in his eyes. Under it, I was sure he was grinning with satisfaction. "It was based on a 1940’s-style burger recipe that my mom learned how to make. We jazzed it up a little by changing the normal American cheese to an aged Vermont cheddar cheese, and we put it on a brioche bun versus a simple classic bun, and we changed up the meat a little bit to just amp up the fat. It’s really juicy and the flavor is off the charts incredible. What you get is the simplest burger you will ever have and is magical when you eat it.”
And magical it really was. My own assessments confirmed such sorcery: melty to the point of irresistible viscosity, juicy on the side of thirst-quenching, and balance on the level of zen. Trust, this delicious energy translates to the rest of Adrift Burger Bar's menu.
When I asked Chef Myers if 30 was the new restaurant, he still wasn't ready to assure that with every future opening. Though he did reply with a smirk, "“If we do this again, I want to be open in seven days.”