The Counter, a Southern California restaurant chain that specializes in gourmet burgers, plans to open its first restaurant in Utah this October, at The Gateway.

Diners can choose among dozens of toppings for their beef, turkey, veggie or grilled chicken patties — from horseradish cheddar cheese and roasted chilies to fried eggs and ginger soy glaze. The restaurant also will sell milkshakes, beer and wine. The average meal costs $12.50, according to the company, based in Culver City, Calif.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant will seat 90 people inside and on the patio. Josh Blanchard, operations director for the company's franchises in Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona, said that since the Winter Olympics, nightlife in Salt Lake City has improved, which makes for good business for restaurants. That change made Salt Lake more attractive for his company, he said.

"Definitely since 2002, Salt Lake City has proven itself to be a cosmopolitan city," he said.

The first restaurant opened in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2003. Since then, the Counter has received accolades from GQ, Travel and Leisure, the Los Angeles Times and Food & Wine magazines. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" included the restaurant on a list of "20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die."


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com