There are only a few things that can amplify the burger-eating experience, and that’s when a rich, flavourful patty is paired with quality bourbon or whiskey, a carefully chosen craft beer or a uniquely tailored cocktail – and that’s exactly what you get at Stackhouse Burger Bar.
From the Kobe beef to the free-range chicken breast, and West Coast Dungeness crab, this narrow restaurant on Granville Street serves food that you can feel good about: locally sourced and natural.
Sometimes the universe catapults us towards burger greatness, be it a thick patty, truffle aioli, a perfect brioche bun or seasoned fries. But this story isn’t just about the ingredients that make a good burger; it’s about a different kind of meat.
It’s about Chef Shahab Ghaemi, how he grew up, how he learned to care about food, and how every little detail led him to find the love of his life standing right across the street from his restaurant.
Ghaemi has a deep-rooted history in burger joints, from putting $30 burgers on the menu when he worked in high-end restaurants, to cutting prices in half because he wanted to feed more people when he opened Stackhouse.
He’s been cooking since the age of 12, when his dad opened up a pizza store in Richmond and young Ghaemi learned how to make dough and bake bread.
The art of cooking has since threaded throughout his whole life, from culinary arts programs to getting his hands messy at Swiss Chalet as a teenager.
“It all builds into who you are and what you know,” says Ghaemi.
Then he moved on to owning and running his own place, writing menus and executing true leadership.
“From working for a big corporation like Joeys, I learned how to be a better coach; I have so much more strength in myself from learning what you have to do to make sure your staff are happy, how to teach them, and to sweat with them so they respect you,” explains Ghaemi.
In his spare time, he hangs out with his wife and plays golf.
“My wife has a kid,” he says, while sitting at the bar in Stackhouse.
“We don’t have kids yet, but we’re planning on having a kid sometime this year. I can’t wait, her daughter is so amazing, and I’m getting older, so it’s time.”
He’s 36, but it was 15 years ago that Ghaemi and his wife first met. The catch is that they lost contact for 10 years.
That’s right, an entire decade went by before they saw one another again.
“Then one night, almost 3 years ago, I saw her right outside of here,” Ghaemi says, pointing across Granville Street. “She waved and came in. My love life started here.”
People are walking in, the food is being brought out, the game is on the television, and the hum of conversation carries through the small room.
There is a sense of comfort here, and above that, a sense passion woven through every aspect of the building, from the doorway his wife walked through on that fateful night, to the carved statues of knives lining the walls, the White Oak bar, the quote on the wall about sacred cows; it was all completely renovated by Ghaemi and his brother.
What you see is their creation over the course of four months. Stackhouse now been open four years.
“It’s a tough industry, you’re always working and away from your family, sometimes it’s a struggle,” Ghaemi says. “But I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m still smiling.”
Every experience in his life was a chance to learn, be it paying his dues in a small kitchen, baking bread with his dad, or creating extravagant meals in the corporate world.
“For me it was about doing my best at whatever I did, anything I touched I wanted to make sure it was good,” he says.
Good things like burgers and bourbon.
Stackhouse Burger Bar
Address: 1224 Granville Street, Downtown/Granville Entertainment District
Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to Midnight; Friday and Saturday 11 to 1 a.m.