“The Cure”: ground beef seasoned to taste like breakfast sausage, sriracha mayo, a fried egg, French fries and Taylor ham, on a freshly made bun.
This is the type of morning-after remedy I can get behind—the my-mouth-is-suddenly-salivating creation at The Harrisburger, Broad Street Market’s gourmet burger joint that opened as part of a wave of new businesses in June.
When I asked the owner/griddle-master/mad burger scientist, Lou Lerant, how he concocted this tantalizing twist on your typical burger, he had a straight, matter-of-fact answer.
“I wanted sausage, but I had beef,” he said. “So, I just looked up ‘How to make breakfast sausage,’ took the seasonings and put it in the beef.”
Thus was born The Cure, Lerant’s very own hangover therapy. You’re welcome, Midtown millennials. But wake up early—there are only 10 of these babies available each Saturday.
Works of Art
The Cure’s creation happened the way that many of The Harrisburger’s one-of-a-kind combinations do, such as the Bacon Me Crazy, Sweet Chili O’Mine, Plain Jane and Truffle Shuffle—by inspiration, trial and error and repeated tastings.
“I like to offer something a little different that keeps them coming back,” Lerant said of his unique offerings.
The recipes are homegrown, with friends and family serving as the enthusiastic testers for his backyard grill experiments/works of art. These same friends and family encouraged Lerant to go into the burger business.
“Having my own restaurant was always something I wanted to do,” he said. “I just never had the means to do it.”
Lerant began to think more seriously about his dream when, one day, he was walking through the market and began speaking with the previous manager, Ashlee Dugan.
“I realized it wasn’t really that expensive to lease a space there,” he said. “Starting something up in the market is still fairly expensive, but not nearly as expensive as getting your own building.”
In another life, Lerant worked as an insurance underwriter and, like many others, regardless of career, was not happy in the job.
“I went to school and went to grad school, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he said. “Everything I did, I was like ‘It’s OK,’ but I was never happy. I go to work, I go home and that’s it. I was always looking for something better.”
Lerant’s decision to chase his dream was applauded by his older co-workers when he announced his new venture.
“When I left my old job, all the older guys I worked with said ‘I wish I did this,’” he said. “And now they’ve been stuck in their job for 30 years instead of doing something else.”
Taste the Difference
In his quest for happiness, Lerant keeps his neighbors and customers top of mind.
He strives to make great food with the most local, high-quality food he can get find. In fact, his beef—freshly ground every morning—comes quite literally from Lerant’s neighbor, Hummer’s Meats, in the next building over. In addition, he picks up his buns every day at The Pennsylvania Bakery.
When possible, Lerant strives to support his fellow business owners by using local produce in his recipes. Some of that produce ends up as garlic aioli and caramelized onions, burger embellishments that Lerant makes himself.
“It’s time consuming, but I think people realize it and can taste the difference,” he said.
To add more zest, he uses the beer of another Midtown business, Zeroday Brewing, in some of his recipes.
Like others who call Midtown home or pass through this historical area of Harrisburg, Lerant recognizes the neighborhood’s evolution over the past few years.
“It seems as if Midtown is trying to become something,” he said. “People my age are trying to start small businesses and promote the town itself.”
Lerant even enthusiastically told me that he is now seeing more customers from outside the city, which is a relatively new audience for the market. As for The Harrisburger itself, Lerant is thrilled to see what the next few months hold.
“It may not work,” he said. “I may not be around forever. But at least I can say I did it, and I don’t regret doing it, which I think is the main takeaway.”
The Harrisburger is located in the Stone Building of the Broad Street Market and is open Thursday to Saturday during regular market hours. For more information, visit www.theharrisburger.com or call 717-836-0154.