First cup cakes, now burgers are a hot trend

Lura Dannenbrock has her Denny's lunch order down pat. A "Better Burger" — 100 percent seasoned beef patty, hand-pressed, grilled, with Swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms.

At $6.99 with drink and fries, it's a deal the Lowry, Mo., resident can't pass up.

"They're a very good value for the price, but I also want it to taste good," said Dannenbrock, dining recently at the Denny's restaurant at Blue Ridge Cutoff.

Americans have long craved the humble burger — turning it into a sizzling $100 billion dining category annually. But in these bleak economic times, it turns out consumers are shelling out more for higher quality, bulkier burgers that go beyond the traditional toppings.

Diners who may have been ordering the occasional steak or more expensive dish are downsizing to burgers but still want quality meat. Others may just recognize a good meal deal when they see one.

This premium burger segment is heating up with fast-food, fast-casual, mid-scale and upscale operators trying to capture a growing portion of the patty market, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, a trade publication.

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