NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Vlane Carter remembers when his passion for sci-fi began.
“Star Wars caught me off guard,” he said. “It was something never done before. And then, I slowly got into Star Trek. And James Bond, that was very inspirational.”
His interest evolved, and he began writing his own sci-fi books, including the series BIAlien and BIO-Sapien. He then found another outlet for his creativity: a restaurant.
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“Action Burger is a sci-fi-, comic book-, video game-themed restaurant located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” he said.
He decorates the Graham Avenue space with comic book motifs and action figures. His menu includes categories he calls “hero food” and “villain food.”
“Villain food is like fried stuff, burgers,” he said. “And then, we have hero food, which is like veggie burgers and turkey burgers. But it’s kind of hard to sell hero food in a fast food restaurant.”
So he devotes more energy to experimenting with villain food, including a burger topped with macaroni and cheese and bacon. The crunchy Nutella burger is sandwiched between two deep-fried waffles. A boozy milkshake called “Gravity Shockwave” blends Cask & Cream and Kahlua liqueurs, vanilla ice cream, cookie dough, and three types of cookies.
He aims to pair his indulgent fare with a welcoming atmosphere.
“Before the pandemic, we had customers playing free video games anytime they want,” he said. “I’m not making much money off of that, but that’s more like a home feel, to give customers the feeling of being at home and reminding them of the ’80s and the ’90s, when they grew up and their childhood.”
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When coronavirus safety measures put an indefinite stop to indoor dining, Carter wanted to continue offering the rare Atari and Nintendo games that have brought his customers joy for years. So he came up with a plan—he turned the indoor screens to face the street, allowing visitors to play from outside.
“I did a lot of research and figured out I could use Bluetooth speakers and then have wireless controllers that can reach the distance,” he said.
Now, individuals and groups can reserve game equipment, order burgers and milkshakes, and sit at outdoor tables while playing any of hundreds of games ranging from Super Mario Bros. to Call of Duty. Game controllers are sanitized after every use.
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Carter has reimagined his business amid a series of setbacks. The financial toll of the pandemic forced him to lay off the bulk of his staff. He began taking orders, cooking, and delivering food all on his own. To make matters worse, the restaurant suffered its first break-in in the eight years since it opened.
“The person stole a couple of things, but I was able to learn from it and bounce back,” he said.
Quitting is not in Carter’s repertoire.
“To survive, I have to make adjustments, so I’m here to switch things up a little bit.”
292 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
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