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November 27, 2014

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Burger Bar general manager Lisa Burney rises to the occasion

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Mona Shield Payne

Burger Bar general manager Lisa Burney

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This ain't no sissy milkshake, pardner. Burger Bar's adult milkshakes come just as advertised - all the sweetness of the classic drink with a shot of liquor to kick-start the tastebuds. The Chocolate Cowboy is chocolate ice cream, chocolate whipped cream mixed together with a shot of good ol' American whiskey. Two shots is too much, Burney says (more than one and it gets too soupy), but we say there's nothing wrong with one in the drink and one on the side. It's how John Wayne would've wanted it.

Other than founding chef Hubert Keller, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who cares more about Burger Bar than general manager Lisa Burney.

Since joining the Mandalay Place restaurant just months after its February 2004 opening, Burney has helped drive its success, as 13 minutes after opening on a Saturday morning the entire restaurant — bar seats and all — is filled.

"I wanted it to be where people of any age or any income could come and enjoy themselves," Burney said. "It's very well-priced for Vegas. It doesn't matter how much money you make."

A native of France, Burney moved to Vegas for high school, where she returned after studying hotel management in her home country. At Burger Bar, she's a regular Jane-of-all-trades, designing merchandise (convincing a skeptical Keller along the way) and aiding in the restaurant's design, in addition to the everyday duties of a GM.

Recently, when she felt the cocktail menu didn't live up to the promise of their extensive burger, beer and milkshake lists, she took it upon herself to create a new one. Her attention to detail is part of the reason guests keep coming back.

"We know our customers and they know us," she said, noting the low turnover of her waitstaff. "Somebody who comes from out of town, who came in two years ago, chances are they're going to see the same people, and I think that makes a big difference in Vegas."

— Originally published in Las Vegas Magazine

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