Now open in the former Dari-Ette Drive-In: Boga Ice Cream and Burger

14 July 2023

A new burger joint is now open on the East Side, in the former Dari-Ette Drive-In.

Boga Ice Cream & Burger serves classic diner fare like burgers, fries, onion rings and cheese curds, plus gelato and milkshakes. Some of their menu items, like the signature gyro burger, have a Mediterranean flair. They also offer coffee, with a menu of hot and iced espresso drinks.

The restaurant is run by Loay Abukhdair and his son Layth Abukhdair; the family also owns Afandina Cafe in Columbia Heights.

The Dari-Ette Drive-In, which opened in the early 1950s and served diner sandwiches and Italian fare seasonally during summers and early fall, closed permanently in 2021. The third-generation owner had put the property up for sale during the 2019–20 offseason.

Once Dari-Ette closed, Layth said, the Abukhdair family noticed that particular section of the neighborhood no longer had a walkable option for quick, simple food.

“We just looked around the area and were like, damn, there’s not a decent burger joint around here,” he said. “We saw that nobody around us was just serving a fresh burger. The ice cream was the same thing.”

Boga is currently in its soft-open phase, Layth Abukhdair, but he’s aiming for a grand opening within a month or so. In the meantime, the family is making adjustments.

A few days in, for example, a customer asked if they had gluten-free buns. Not yet, he replied — so he ordered some. Soon after: Do you have non-dairy milk for your coffee drinks? So he brought in almond and oat milks, too.

In an online review, Layth Abukhdair said, a diner reported that the gyro burger and cheese curds were delicious but that the cheeseburger patty didn’t feel fresh enough. At that point, he was ordering burgers from a food distributor. But to achieve the quality that diners wanted, he realized, he’d have to make the patties himself.

“So now me and my wife are in the back, weighing out the burger patties,” Layth Abukhdair said. “I told [my family]: If we’re going to do this, we have to try having the best burger around. There’s no second-best. We have to make one of the best burgers people have ever had — or just don’t make a burger at all.”

Because the restaurant is still in soft-open mode, permanent opening hours are still under consideration. But for now, Boga serves coffee in the mornings starting around 8 a.m., and food from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The family is hoping to add delivery soon, too, through apps like Uber Eats.

Boga Ice Cream & Burger: 1440 E. Minnehaha Ave; other contact info not yet available

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