- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Ever chow down at a restaurant and think, “I could do better”? A new burger joint is giving you the chance to prove it.

At 4food, a recently opened burger shop in Manhattan, you’re not restricted to the menu on the digital screen. Customers are encouraged to mix and match ingredients, actually add their creations to the menu, then share them with friends on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

What’s the incentive, you ask, other than the satisfaction of (maybe) watching your culinary creation be devoured by the masses? If someone orders your dish, you get a 25-cent credit.

And you can build your better burger online or onsite.

In the store, you can be guided by a staffer, called a hawker because they “swoop in and help when needed,” said one. Or, you can go at your own pace on one of the bolted-down iPads. When you get to your table, you can continue dreaming up great creations _ there’s free Wi-Fi for browsing the Web while eating. You also also see Foursquare check-ins and tweets about the experience on their 240-square-foot LED monitor, if that’s your thing.

And if it’s all just too confusing, prebuilt burgers also are available.

Adam Kidrom, the man behind 4food, says his goal was simply to provide fast, nutritious, customizable foods made of all-natural, local ingredients.

But sorry, no French fries.

Something else that may jar the average customer _ the burger patties have holes in the center. That’s right, they look like beef doughnuts.

The cooks fill that hole with the customer’s choice of 25 different mixtures called VeggieScoops, such as avocado chili mango or edamame with sea salt.

The scoop “transforms the taste and nutritional profile of the burger,” said Kidron.

They call it the (W)holeBurger. Get it?

Kidron doesn’t like the way the average fast food burger ends up overcooked to make sure it is safe to eat. So after considering the barbecue trick of indenting the middle of a burger patty to help it cook more evenly, he decided to try removing the center entirely. From there, it was an easy leap to fill the hole with something delicious.

“It was absolutely scrumptious,” he said. “And everything led from that.”

Kidron says the benefits of their social networking presence go both ways. Offering in-store credit and giving away food to Facebook and Twitter followers will create loyal customers. It’s also made news of the restaurant go viral even before the grand opening. So far, they’ve gained over 3,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter combined.

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