Food with a ‘Tude


The Counter staff, from l, Fernando Rivera, Ande Poehls, Lindsey Newell, Christina Azinian, Pamela Laurie and Cris Servellon.

There’s a new burger in town, and it promises to shake up North Hollywood as we know it. We’re not talking your doo-wop, carhop, jukebox burger. We’re talking a break beat, get-off-your-seat and on-your-feet burger. Toluca Lake’s two month old The Counter Custom Built Burgers promises to cut through the everyday clutter of emails, commercial breaks and text messages to give you a visceral experience that’s best described by Manager Ande Poehls as “food with a ‘tude.”

These burgers put you in complete control as you can choose from five meats (including a veggie patty), a dozen cheeses, over 30 toppings, 20-odd sauces and up to four different buns. If all those possibilities give you a migraine imagining all the what-ifs, don’t fret, for they also have signature burgers that have been quantified for maximum taste bud pleasure in The Counter Burger lab.

The endless, affordable burger options set you up to express yourself through your choice eats. For example, Ande’s burger du jour when we talked was a Turkey patty on a Multigrain Bun, complimented with spicy Jalapeno Jack cheese and topped with Black Olives, a Hardboiled Egg, Sprouts, Cucumber and Avocado – all dipped in Chipotle Aioli. Now that’s a burger.

“Everybody has a different opinion on what makes the perfect burger. Luckily, we’ve got you covered, whether you’re in the market for a standard ketchup, tomato, lettuce burger or something decidedly less conventional,” Ande says.

What started right in Santa Monica in 2003 has spread all over the U.S. and internationally. Owners Jeff and Craig initially opened The Counter as an exciting alternative to you typical burger chain, a place that celebrates individuality over adherence to the norm. This business model has made fans in high places, apparently. The Queen of All Media, Oprah Winfrey herself, has given The Counter her stamp of approval, a figurative big “O” that you know can’t be bought. Our interview is interrupted once by a coworker reminding Ande that they’re still on for feeding cast and crew of Criminal Minds. With fans in high places, you’d think this place would be intimidating, but as each burger is unique in its own way, each customer is as well.

“At The Counter, [franchisee owners]Catyana and Christina Azinian welcome everyone. The main concept here is we’re the 21st century’s answer to a ‘50s diner. That means you get personality versus scripted service. We’re forging an innovative, modern dining experience. We’ve been asked to turn down our music before, but we had to politely decline.”

The Counter Custom Built Burgers is located at 10123 Riverside Dr., Ste. A, in Toluca Lake. For more information, call (818) 509-1881 or visit

Yeah, I’m gonna need a couple more minutes before I order.

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