Chelsea residents Paul Fredenberg and Raunaq Savur plan to open Chelsea Burger in Seitz’s Tavern’s former space in January.
Fredenberg, a real estate investor, was renting office space upstairs at Seitz’s when he learned that Randy Seitz planned to retire and sell the century-old Chelsea landmark. He says he and his friend Savur, a longtime chef and former restaurant manager, had talked about going into business together “if we ever found a cool place [and could serve] the right kind of food—something that’s good, simple, and fast.
“I’d gotten to know Dawn and Randy [Seitz] really well,” Fredenberg says, “and that’s when Raunaq and I started talking about ‘What if we bought the building and fixed it up, and I kept my office upstairs?'”
Savur, who attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked in L.A. and Ann Arbor before becoming a private chef and caterer in the area, says a good burger is a chef favorite. Plus, “parents love ’em, and kids love ’em,” he says. They plan to serve “simple, high quality” food, with beef and bread sourced from local producers, milk and ice cream for shakes from Guernsey, and sodas free of high-fructose corn syrup. They’ll also offer fries and veggie burgers.
The business partners, whose families met at church four years ago, “bonded quickly over food,” Fredenberg says. Savur and his wife, Rachel, who have three kids and live three blocks from the new restaurant, often visit the Fredenbergs’ fifty-acre farm where Paul and his wife, Alison, are raising their ten kids—ages two to twenty. The family grows their own food and raises animals for meat. Savur says he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes on the big clan.
Fredenberg acknowledges “it’s a tough thing” for the community to see Seitz’s go. “There’s a lot of history in these walls,” he says. They’ll preserve Seitz’s iconic cash register and wooden stand-up bar and add seating. They’ll also keep the Seitz’s sign but move it inside. The front will be modernized with “bigger windows to let more light in” and there will be a lounge area with couches and total seating for nearly fifty. Customers will order at a counter, with food delivered to tables.
One big change: the bar will no longer serve alcohol. “We’re going to be super family-friendly,” Fredenberg explains, and says they hope to attract sports teams and high schoolers. They’re choosing tables over booths to encourage more customer interaction. “Maybe people will put down their phones for a while,” Savur laughs.
“We want to take everything good about this town and sort of encapsulate it … [Seitz’s] built a legacy,” Savur says. “They’re not going to be forgotten—but we want an opportunity to do the same.”
Chelsea Burger, 110 W. Middle, Chelsea. Set to open in January 2020.