Sugar Loaf chefs Lindsay and Nebi Berhane met while both working and touring as professional dancers, a career that included travel and experiencing of other cultures which only added to Lindsay and Nebi’s existing deep connection to food through their own cultural heritage.

Nebi’s family originates from Ethiopia while Lindsay’s family comes from Albania. The power of creating connections through food sparked the impetus for Sugar Loaf. 

When Lindsay and Nebi started conceptualizing Sugar Loaf, they agreed on the need to serve a burger. Both chefs held fond memories of late night burgers from local drive-ins. It took a lot of taste-testing and experimentation before the pair finally developed a burger reminiscent of that nostalgic childhood experience, deemed the “Drive-In” burger. 

Aside from reliving childhood memories, the inspiration behind the “Drive-In” burger comes from the Great Depression in El Reno, Oklahoma. Prices of beef skyrocketed in the 1920’s, but onions remained relatively cheap. As a result, cooks smashed thinly sliced onions into their beef patties to stretch the beef’s supply. Nebi always preferred burgers topped with griddled onions, so Lindsay and Nebi gravitated toward an onion burger. The “Drive-In” features an all beef patty smashed with thinly sliced, sweet vidalia onions, topped with American cheese, a smoky-sweet special sauce, and bread & butter pickles on the side. It is served on a sesame seed bun, toasted with a 50/50 mixture of beef fat and butter. 

Sugar Loaf makes sure the burger is localized with Atlanta artisan butchers such as Pine Street Market and Kinship Butcher, who source sustainably raised beef and grind it in-house. After a thorough survey of locally made bread, they selected burger buns from TGM Bread.

Currently, Lindsay and Nebi sell weekly at the Piedmont Park Green Market and every other week at the Grant Park Farmers Market. Occasionally, they host a burger pop-up at various Atlanta breweries to highlight burgers including the Drive-In burger as well as other regional burgers such as their  “Carolina style” slaw-burger. 

Punk Foodie offers this weekly column about Punk Food, a moniker for a cuisine without defining or distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes which is being born out of the increasing infusion of the diverse cultures and experiences that live in our city. Find out where Sugar Loaf is popping up next and go deeper via Punk Foodie’s weekly guides and pop-up calendar

Madalyn Nones | Punk Foodie

Although currently working in public health, Madalyn Nones has a passion for baking, farmers' markets, and grassroots food businesses.