Buddy, I was also surprised by all the comments to this thread. I note in the first post to this thread that you mentioned that your sister-in-law found the burgers very tasty. That is in keeping with Bobby Flay's reputation. What made the item newsworthy was that he branched out into the price-conscious fast-casual restaurant category. With Kohl's selling a line of Bobby Flay cookware and kichenware, I guess some of the posters could be excused for automatically thinking this burger restaurant concept was just a licensing deal. I'm not sure about the deal at the Mohegan Sun casino, but the rest of his burger restaurants seem to be owned and operated by the restaurant company he is a partner in (the one who agreed to settle with the workers.)
This episode does raise a question though. When do we stop calling people like Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and Mario Batali Chefs and start calling them Executive Chefs or Restaurant Entrepreneurs? You probably will never again eat food that was personally cooked by them. While I would like to think that Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck personally develop all of the menu items served in their restaurants, I can't figure out where they get the time to do so, since they seem to be spending most of their time marketing their business ventures.
ADDENDUM: I just found out that Emeril Lagasse also opened a burger restaurant in November, 2009 at the Sands Casino and Resort Bethlehem, built on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Company property in Bethlehem, PA. This is a full service, upscale restaurant. It is called "Burgers and More", abbreviated as BAM! (get it?) A 8 ounce Prime cheeseburger with one side costs $12; the "Create a Burger" with your choice of weeds and a side costs $14. IMHO, Bobby Flay's concept is quite reasonable in price.
WFMZ-TV of Allentown, PA has some stories and video of interviews with Emeril on their web site. Typical restaurant opening videos. You see Emeril preparing food in one of the videos, and carrying a tray of food to one of the patrons in another of the videos.
<message edited by David_NYC on Fri, 03/5/10 8:01 PM>