Who knew that a runny fried egg on a burger could be life-changing?
One bite of the creation — with melted cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo, pickles and onions on a toasted, buttered bun — and you’re in hamburger heaven.
You really can “have it your way” at Archway Burgers, Dogs and Beer. Fried egg and all. Runny or hard yoke.
Or ditch the egg and slide on some crispy bacon or beer onions sauteed in brown ale.
Or fried green tomatoes.
Or what else? The list of possibilities is tantalizing at this popular burger joint where folks have been known to line up before the doors open at 11 a.m. six days a week.
Located in one of downtown Fayetteville’s historic landmarks — Archway on the Commons, circa 1850 — the dining room is snug with only eight tables. But there’s additional seating on an outdoor patio and under the archway. Many orders are to go.
Stepping into the restaurant, you grab a paper pad, tear off a menu, borrow a little No. 2 pencil, and make your choices. Stake your place in line and hand your order to the cashier, and your name will be called when it’s ready.
Start with a single or double “smashed” burger on a bun ($5.50 and $7.50), or choose a bowl if you’re carb-conscious ($7.50). Other choices are all-beef hot dogs ($3) and BLTs ($5.50).
Check the boxes on your order slip for free stuff — ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, hot sauce, even pickled okra and more. Toss in a quarter each for tomato, house-made coleslaw, relish, jalapeños, sauerkraut and other toppers.
Fifty cents each will get you American or cheddar cheese; house-made pimiento cheese and mac-and-cheese; beer onions and the game-changing fried egg. For a buck extra, choose bacon or a fried green tomato.
If meat isn’t your thing, there’s the option of a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar or pimento cheese on sourdough bread. Side orders include mac-and-cheese and pasta salad.
With just the right amount of crispness, the beer-battered fries are a must ($2.50). If you crave the works, get them smothered with cheese and beefy chili made on-site ($3.50). Fountain sodas wash it all down, or choose from a variety of craft beers with catchy names such as Sweet Baby Jesus (a chocolate/peanut butter porter) and Not Another New England IPA.
Archway’s high-energy co-owner, Peter “P.J.” Zahran, used to work in the beverage industry selling to restaurants and wine shops. He now has a corporate sales job with Cintas. He and his wife, Courtney, opened Archway in November 2019. She also has another full-time job as the owner of a dance studio, World of Dance, on the north side of town. They are parents of a young son and daughter.
The Zahrans are nothing if not organized and industrious. But they are quick to point out that they couldn’t do it without their Archway team, which is small but runs like a well-oiled machine.
There’s Michael, the head cook, who has an impressive culinary background and stirs a big pot of chili with unbridled joy. Kimberly expertly handles kitchen prep and reigns as a sandwich artist. Mia stays calm under pressure at the front counter, along with Courtney.
Chase is the fry cook and food runner, keeping everything neat and clean as he goes. Megan fills in wherever needed, as does P.J. We spied him opening umbrellas on the patio tables one minute and working in the kitchen the next.
“It’s about creating something that’s very simple and comfortable to eat,” says P.J., speaking over a soundtrack of classic rock that was heavy on the Fleetwood Mac.
And it’s about building more than just burgers and hot dogs. It’s about building community.
P.J. glows with pride when he talks about the police officer who stops by every day just to make sure the crew is doing well.
And the repeat customers include one who wants absolutely everything on his hot dog.
“We have an up-and-coming food scene on Person Street,” P.J. says. “We all help each other out, and we all want each other to succeed.”
Archway Burgers, Dogs and Beer is at 113 Person St. in downtown Fayetteville. Hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sunday. Call 910-758-9449.