The new Cosmos Burgers in Turlock is — wait for it — out of this world.
I know, I know — but I had to. And it’s not all just hyperbole. The new burger shop in the site of the old (and much loved) Alcatraz Burger on Crowell Road across from California State University, Stanislaus, has new owners, new menu items and a new attitude. All the while the family-run business remains firmly Earth-bound thanks to hard-work, determination and tasty recipes.
Husband-and-wife team Youn Seraypheap and Nat Somsinsawasdi bought the restaurant from the owners of Alcatraz Burger this spring and opened the new Cosmos Burgers in its place June 17. They took over the location and recipes — so your favorites remain like the mozzarella-cheese wrapped behemoth the Al Capone and juicy Bird Man. Seraypheap said the Alcatraz team sold them the eatery because they wanted to start a new restaurant in San Francisco.
Seraypheap and Somsinsawasdi, who are both originally from Thailand, have several years experience running restaurants in Sacramento. But after years of preparing Japanese and Chinese food, Somsinsawasdi said she wanted a change. The family moved to Manteca and now she flips (and folds cheese around) burgers daily. Somsinsawasdi works as the joint’s head chef, with her children — 22-year-old Jan and 15-year-old Jeff — behind the counter.
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The decor has gone from jailhouse to deep space. Seraypheap, who operates behind the scenes, said they wanted to move away from the prison and crime-themes of Alcatraz burger to something more positive and celestial. The transition is still a work in progress, as the old menu, featuring the famous cons and old burger names, still hangs above the cash register. But soon the Al Capone will be the Big Bang and Bird Man will be the Phoenix, and so on.
But past Alcatraz regulars should be reassured, the recipes are the same and the resulting burgers are indeed tasty. Somsinsawasdi has also added a few of her own creations to the menu including cheeseburger fries (big enough to feed two hungry college students or three normal humans) and a barbecue pineapple bacon burger and sweet potato fries.
And, in another nod to the college students across the way, prices have been dropped $1 to $2 on many menu items. The meat is still ground daily and fresh-baked bread is brought in for the buns.
“We dropped the prices – we figured school students they live on a tight budget. So we drop everything,” he said. “But we still want everything we have to be super, duper fresh.”
While I never had a chance to eat at Alcatraz, which opened in 2014, diners who had eaten there said Cosmos offerings hold up and the new items got thumbs up. And in pretty much every universe, that’s a good sign.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
St. Stan’s is now open for business — on Friday and Saturday nights.
St. Stan’s Brewery, once Modesto’s signature microbrewed beer, is completing its comeback thanks to new owners Rich Hodder and Chad Rice. The brewery, which moved to the former site of the Sandude Taproom spot on 11th Street in May is now serving beer, wine and cider on site.
Hodder said on Monday they will have finalized their food permit and hope to begin serving their new menu of wood-fired pizzas and more by mid-August. For now they are pouring some of their new beer recipes from brewmaster Bill Coffey. The first traditional St. Stan’s brew to return, Graffiti Wheat, will be ready to serve next weekend.