John and Angela Olofson opened their drive-in restaurant, Bomb Burger, in the former Triangle Restaurant building in late August. They sold out of food the first two days they were open. (Photo by Mike Ramczyk)

Local couple set up drive-in burger joint to former Triangle site

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

John and Angela Olofson were large and in charge.

They were selling healthy food options like avocado sandwiches and fresh gelato at a coffee shop in Richmond, Illinois, where they featured a popular brunch menu and a full bar.

Main Street Coffee Company was a popular dine-in destination for nearly six years, as the Olofsons completely remodeled the building they took over.

Then, after ringing up $40,000 per month, suddenly the couple was only making $3,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a drastic change was needed.

On March 17, the couple, who met at the old French Country Inn restaurant in Lake Geneva, was forced to close after reverting to carry-out only and struggling to survive.

“Most of it was making masks (revenue),” Angela said. “It was a beautiful space. It was packed on the weekends. When we told (the landlord) after our third month of paying rent we were giving him our 30-day notice, he had someone lined up the next day. He wouldn’t give us a conversation to renew the lease.”

 

Living the dream

So John sold a building he owned in Genoa City, which used to house the “Home Plate” restaurant, and the Olofsons were ready to start “the dream” – John’s lifelong goal of opening a burger stand.

“We’re entrepreneurs, so we were thinking ‘no dine-in,’” Angela said. “He wanted to open his burger stand. This was the dream.”

The dream is now Bomb Burger, a drive-in burger place on the corner of Market and McHenry streets in Burlington in the former Triangle restaurant building.

“John was like, I can remodel that in a second, I can be up in two weeks,” Angela said. “We were up in two months.”

The Olofsons bought the building from Chris Allen, who owned it for the past 11 years, but the restaurant hasn’t been in operation since 2018.

Angela went from everything organic – fresh gelato, avocado toast, fresh-squeezed juices – to cheeseburgers.

“We’re so sick of going places, and it’s a $12 burger,” she said. “This is like doing everything that we love. We like bringing back that old-school thing.”

Bomb Burger was jumping on a recent Tuesday afternoon, with John on the grill, Angela dropping fries, cheese curds and onion rings, another worker making orders and Angela’s 14-year-old daughter Maya taking orders at the window.

They kept a constant line of five to 10 people.

When Bomb Burger opened in late August it sold out of food on the first day.

 

Fast-selling burgers

Angela said they bought 50 pounds of fresh meat from the wholesaler in Milwaukee and sold out in less than 24 hours.

Then, on the following day – a Saturday – they ran out of buns by 4 p.m.

“We didn’t really tell anyone, and we sold out right away,” Angela said.

One customer recently told Angela, “Thank you, I almost gave up on Burlington opening new places.”

John bought “everything he could” at the warehouse over the opening weekend, and the “fresh, not frozen” meat sold like hot cakes.

“We have it fresh every day, because we can’t keep it in stock,” Angela said. “I’m pretty picky when it comes to food, so I can tell when something isn’t fresh.”

The Bomb Burger, the featured menu item has two beef patties and bomb sauce, with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. The signature “bomb sauce” has a mayonnaise base.

Of course, there are French fries, too.

“In Richmond, we had to throw everything at the wall to bring people in,” Angela said. “There was no outdoor dining. It was a different personality. It was a bad location in the middle of a block off Highway 12. There’s people like ‘good riddance we’re gone.’

“Everyone’s so welcoming here. Maybe it was because I’m from Wisconsin. This was more his (John’s) dream, but I could eat cheeseburgers for the rest of my life.”

 

Burlington lovers

Angela says they miss the caffeine of the coffee shop, but they planned to get some cold brews going at Bomb Burger.

They’ve already started building a trailer with coffee options, which they hope to add at some point.

John fixed up the interior of the restaurant with new paint and brick.

The food truck feel is present in the front, where people can simply walk up and order a Bomb Burger, cheeseburger, Chicago-style hot dog, soda or lemonade.

Angela and John both worked in the restaurant business for years in Lake Geneva over the past two decades.

When they met at French Country Inn, he was the cook and she was the “talker,” Angela joked.

She’s been a waitress all over the area.

For now, the Bomb Burger owners bring their entrepreneurial spirit to Burlington, a town Angela says they both love and hope to be in for a long time.

They recently bought a house in Lake Geneva, and their daughter is enrolled at Badger High School.

“We’ve always loved Burlington, and we want something to just be simple and affordable, and take it back to classic drive-ins,” Angela said. “John was in the National Guard here, we almost bought a house here and we love it. It’s crazy how things got, but it just feels right now.”