SLDR Burger Bar is one of the latest new restaurants to open on Broadway in Astoria offering gourmet slider burgers with a dozen different flavors and themes along with milkshakes, sides and a self-service beer dispenser with an array of popular brews.
The new eatery had its grand opening on May 16, welcoming anticipating residents who have been curious about the restaurant’s brightly lit neon signs boasting four letters underneath electric blue lights that read “burger bar.”
When you walk inside, the restaurant has a retro look, an aesthetic decision with a meaning behind it, according to SLDR’s owner, John Arvanitis.
“Art and history have a habit of repeating themselves,” Arvanitis said. “So, when you want to know what’s ahead of you, the best thing you can do is study what’s behind you, and so I thought I’d pay homage to the origin of the burger world with SLDR, and that’s why we developed this name now.”
In the context of history, Arvanitis has quite a bit of experience of his own in the restaurant industry prior to opening his own place. His father first opened Omonia Café in 1977, which is also on Broadway, not too far from SLDR. His parents later opened a second location in Brooklyn where they operated as a family.
Arvanitis moved to Los Angeles for a few years to pursue a career in music and chose to return to New York upon the opening of his family’s third restaurant, Amylos Taverna, in January 2019. Arvanitis became the general manager, a role that prepared him well for where he is today.
“[Amylos] was the first business that I operated as a general manager and took net responsibility for it and groomed it into what it is today, with the help of my family of course,” Arvanitis said. “But it was a full dedication on my part, seven days a week, and that in turn helped put me in a position to take my own step here in a more autonomous way with SLDR.”
SLDR has an eclectic selection of slider burgers, some made with American Angus beef, like the Greek Freak and The Truffle, but they also have a vegan slider called The Garden, along with a tempura-battered fish filet called What She Order? and buttermilk fried chicken on a slider simply called Fried Chicken.
Customers can mix it up with their choices and even get a box of a dozen sliders.
“It was important to me that every slider have its own nature,” Arvanitis said. “Everything has to fit together and be brilliant, but at the same time, everything also needs to be able to stand independent. Everyone has a different favorite and I’ve actually overheard conversations of customers arguing which slider is the best and for what reason, so that’s great.”
As for the eatery’s name, Arvanitis decided to name the burger bar SLDR, with just four letters to not only reflect the mini burgers but to make an artistic statement about the way our society is constantly consuming images and information, particularly through social media.
“It’s the word slider but without the vowels, which is what a slider is — a whole burger but in less letters, so there’s smaller bites of information,” Arvanitis said.
He added, “I wanted the sociological equivalent; the way that we consume media, you get a lot of information, and you get it really quickly and your processing time changes. I wanted an eating format that addresses these changes, and that’s what sliders are. They’re small bites, the same way a byte of information is.”