Burger chain Fatburger Corp. is working to entice loyal diners to try chicken wings, too.

The Beverly Hills company opened a two-in-one restaurant in West Los Angeles last month to introduce consumers to Buffalo’s Café Express, the fast-casual version of the sit-down Atlanta chicken wing chain it acquired in November 2011.

The restaurant – half Fatburger, half Buffalo’s Café Express – has separate menus but shares a kitchen and front counter. It’s the first outpost for the chicken restaurant in California and the first 24-hour location for Fatburger.

Andy Wiederhorn, chief executive of Fatburger and its Beverly Hills holding company, Fog Cutter Capital Group Inc., said he was optimistic about the prospects of the dual offerings.

“We felt it was a good opportunity to take advantage of real estate costs by sharing one counter and one kitchen, and the brands complement each other,” he said.

The average price of a meal at Buffalo’s Café Express – chicken wings, fries and a drink, for example – is about $11, similar to that of Fatburger.

The company will co-brand more of its Fatburger restaurants in Los Angeles, including one at Third Street and La Cienega Boulevard. It will also open several sit-down Buffalo’s Café restaurants elsewhere in California in the coming year, including one in Palmdale this spring and another in Palm Desert in the fall.

Buffalo’s Café has restaurants in Georgia, Florida, Indiana and North Carolina. Wiederhorn said the chicken chain is opening more sit-down restaurants overseas under franchise agreements.

“We’ve more than doubled the size of the Buffalo’s brand already,” said Wiederhorn. “We have 35 stores in our development pipeline to open in the next couple of years.”

Bull’s-Eye

Target Corp. has taken aim at the city of Los Angeles as one of the major markets where it will grow its small-scale store concept the fastest.

The Minneapolis retailer opened two of its City Target stores in Los Angeles last year – one in Westwood and another downtown – and it’s planning to open a third at the Beverly Connection retail complex on La Cienega Boulevard in March.

The company opened its first three City Target stores last July in Westwood, Seattle and Chicago. Today, Los Angeles is the only city where the retailer has opened multiple City Target stores.

Sarah Van Nevel, a spokeswoman for Target, said the City Targets are ideal for L.A.’s higher-density neighborhoods.

“It makes sense for us to open these smaller-format stores where we may not have the opportunity to open a larger-format store,” she said.

The 99,000-square-foot store at the Beverly Connection is expected to employ up to 300 people. It will offer grocery items and alcohol along with the clothing and household items typically carried at Target stores.

In addition to the City Targets, the parent company is working to open at least three more full-size stores in the area: in Pomona, scheduled to open in October; Hollywood, which has been in the works since 2010 but has faced development challenges; and Westlake Village.

Van Nevel said the retailer has approximately 60 stores open in the L.A. area.

“It’s a very big market, one that’s always been a key growth area for us,” she said. “We’d be remiss not to continue to look for opportunities to grow in the L.A. market.”

Revolving Doors

Gardena mattress retailer Sit ’n Sleep opened its 29th store last week, a 10,000-square-foot showroom in Chino Hills. … Denver gourmet burger chain Smashburger opened its second local restaurant last month. The first was in Thousand Oaks, and the recent addition is on Venice Boulevard in Culver City. … New York do-it-yourself craft shop Make Meaning will open its first California store in Thousand Oaks in February. … Teaneck, N.J., celebrity wig designer Flora Shepelsky will open her first West Coast wig and hat boutique in Los Angeles this spring. … A retail building at Verdugo Avenue and San Fernando Boulevard in Burbank is the proposed site of a 210-room Hilton Garden Inn. FPG Development Group of Palm Beach, Fla., submitted plans to Burbank officials for the 40,000-square-foot hotel last month. … French restaurant and bakery Figaro Bistro opened on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles last month. … Chef Whitney Flood and his wife, Julie Retzlaff, co-owners of Bon Melange Catering in Venice, opened a restaurant, Muddy Leek, in Culver City last month. … Educational child care company Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centers of Fort Worth, Texas, announced last month that it planned to open 10 centers in Los Angeles County in the next two years. The company will open its first L.A. franchise in Pasadena later this year.

Staff reporter Bethany Firnhaber can be reached at bfirnhaber@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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