By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski • Photos by Kimberly Carrillo

The North Scottsdale couple rolled that love into Lush Burger, a restaurant they purchased five months ago.

“Our restaurant is a burger restaurant,” Michelle says. “If you want a good burger, you want to come here.”

Lush Burger serves 11 flamboyantly named variations, ranging from the classic build-your-own to the “Hello….?!?!? Can Anyone Get Me a Bacon Cheeseburger Around Here?!?” Mushroom lovers will dig “Jay Does ‘Shrooms,” while pizza fanatics can order the Pepperoni Burger. The cleverly written menu outlines each offering, thanks to Jay.

Michelle prefers The Havana and The Roadhouse, both of which are “monthly burgers” that will move to the regular menu. The Havana, the first cousin to the Cubano, piles frizzled onions, caramelized onions, garlic mayo and thick-cut, maple-cured bacon on an Angus beef patty and roasted pork shoulder. Meanwhile, The Roadhouse goes heavy on the onion, especially onion strings.

The Hoffs moved to North Scottsdale from Rhode Island about a year and a half ago. Jay formerly worked for Chili’s, for which he opened restaurants nationwide.

“Everything from the back of the house (at Lush Burger) is run on a corporate level,” Michelle says. “But I’m here pretty much all the time. Jay’s here all the time. He’s either in the back or the kitchen or on the floor. We’re super-excited for the changes to come, like the renovations.”

Lush Burger is the couple’s fourth restaurant. They sold The American, a white tablecloth, fine-dining establishment in an old locomotive factory, and Buster Krab’s Beach Bar and Burger Shack before moving from the East Coast. Their pub, The Abbey: A Burger and Beer Joint in Providence, is still among their holdings.

“The Abbey has 122 beers,” Michelle says. “We won best burger in the state four times. Those burgers are slowly coming out here. The Roadhouse is the one that won the best burger for Rhode Island.”

When the Hoffs purchased Lush Burger in February, they made changes to the staff and the ingredients. All the cheese is made in Wisconsin, thanks to the Hoffs’ partnership with The Cheese & Burger Society and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. The bread is made fresh daily at John Anthony’s Italian Bread Company and delivered to Lush Burger.

“We’re all about really good-quality, not-inexpensive items,” Michelle says. “We use thick-cut, maple-smoked bacon. You’re going to get a big burger. You’ll be super-full.

“That’s how we do things.”

The Hoffs say Lush Burger caters to families like theirs. The couple has three children. When they were looking for a restaurant to purchase in North Scottsdale, they wanted one by a good school like Desert Mountain High School.

Kids will enjoy Lush Burger for its kids’ menu, which includes items like a slider basket, Kraft mac and cheese, chicken tenders, corn dog, cheesy flatbread pizza and The Bunless. Milkshakes, which are equally as appropriate for adults, are made in-house.

A basket of books sits in the corner of the restaurant.

“I also have the little plastic bugs that boys like to play with,” Michelle says. “I have dinosaurs and green Army men. I let the kids go to the shelf and pick out a book. I just ask that they put it back when they’re done.

“The moms love it,” she continues. “I’ve been to restaurants with my kids. They get cranky. I always had my bag with me of stuff. One day here, I saw a mom reading to a baby, who was probably one and a half years old. It’s super-great.”

Lush Burger will subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket and offer football specials. There will be four TVs on the 120-person patio, joined by several inside. While the parents watch sports, kids have fun for free in a drivable video game truck, courtesy of Games on Wheels, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays during football season. It boasts six plush chairs and five video screens.

“We’re all about families here,” Michelle says.

But what it really comes down to is the burgers.

“My husband put his heart and soul into these burgers,” she adds. “He’s a burger man. We know what has to be done.”