First anniversary a hit!

It was the logo that first caused people to take a closer look, even before this Qualicum Beach restaurant opened for business one year ago — a stylized crown perched on top of a capital letter Q. The saucy logo is still garnering attention for Q Burger, but the real head turners are the creative burgers and the attentive service.

Sidewalk tables at Q Burger.

With over two decades experience as a chef at restaurants such as Courtenay’s Atlas Café, the Kingfisher Resort and Mad Chef Café, Kevin Munroe, along with his partner Erin, decided to set out on a new venture. They scoured the Sunshine Coast and half of Vancouver Island searching for the right place.

One spring day in 2019 the couple “just happened to be in Qualicum Beach” walking down Second Avenue when they noticed someone coming out the door of a vacant building. Catching a glimpse of the building’s interior, they asked what the building was and were told that it had been a café but was now just being used for storage. Stepping inside, they knew their search for the right property / right town was over.

Then the hard work started. “We gutted the place,” says Erin. They had hoped to catch the summer tourist season, but, “it took us six months” to get the restaurant itself set-up. Q Burger has a sleek, urban ambience with live-edge dark wood furniture and black accents in an airy, bright L-shaped room.

Settling on a menu was the easy part. A decade ago, John Catucci, a producer with the Food Network Canada, discovered Kevin Munroe’s burgers and, as they say, the rest is history. Kevin appeared on the Food Network Canada show You Gotta Eat Here! a number of times between 2012 and 2017. The show is now running in syndication, and Erin says that people still recognize Kevin’s face from the show’s posters.

Not being able to open Q Burger until mid-October 2019 was a blessing in disguise, says Erin.

“We’re very community oriented, so this gave us a chance to really get to know the locals, our core customers.” Erin says that people from Courtenay and Campbell River will often make a special trip to Qualicum Beach just for one of Kevin’s burgers. Sure enough, a day later, I dropped in unannounced to photograph the restaurant’s interior and overheard two customers saying that they had just driven down from Campbell River.

What is it about these burgers that sets them apart? Ingredients in your choice of beef, chicken, tuna or veggie burger can include roasted garlic, balsamic reduction, arugula or asiago cheese, served with a side of skinny fries or salad. Q Burger offers wine and local craft beer, e.g. Loveshack Libations and Ace Brewing, cider from Merridale and a wide selection of craft non-alcoholic beer from Partake, an award-winning Canadian brewer.

Erin says that the logo, a crown perched on a capital letter Q, was designed with a great deal of thought (by her sister, a graphics designer). Q stands for Qualicum, of course, and also for Quality. Erin explains that the crown is a “nod to royalty” since Qualicum Beach has a history with British royalty but it’s also meant to convey that their burgers are the best burgers, the “crowning glory.”

Then came COVID-19. “We were very scared at first,” says Erin, when the coronavirus shut-down was announced.

However, Erin and Kevin could see it coming. “We noticed that the town was getting quieter, and we watched the news from around the world closely.” But the couple kept calm and carried on — another nod to royalty. Q Burger never closed. Instead, Erin says that they simply “taped over the “eat in” portion of the restaurant’s Eat In – Take Out sign. People were so grateful because we were one of the only places that remained open in town.”

Erin and Kevin Munroe, Q Burger, Qualicum Beach, BC.

“We had to be adaptable,” says Erin. First, she and Kevin made a little alcove in the entry for customers to place take-out orders. Q Burger also had to scale back their staff to ensure they could maintain a safe “bubble” in the kitchen, and to help weather the financial impact.

The restaurant’s innovation extends beyond its menu. Customers were delighted when Q Burger offered customers a take-out Mother’s Day brunch. The restaurant’s existing sidewalk seating has been much in demand all along. Later, when dine-in service was allowed again, the long tables and benches that previously sat multiple parties together were replaced with tables that enable safe distancing.

After opening in mid-October 2019, Q Burger has ridden the waves of coronavirus like a seasoned surfer. Happy first anniversary!

Located at 109 Second Avenue West in Qualicum Beach, Q Burger is open Wednesday to Sunday from Noon-7PM. 250.898.3450