The open creative brief specified the client as an "upscale hamburger chain," but left the direction open beyond that. I explored five different directions, each with a different approach to the concept of upscale. 
The first direction is a blend of retro and fast casual coffee bar vibe. This variation was voted best in a no-spec logo competition out of 24 entries.

The second concept took a turn toward the classic diner, such as Steak & Shake, Eat at Joes, and Johnny Rockets. The mark is a throwback to the vintage pastels, tiles and chrome of the diner era.
The first was for a chain of fast casual restaurants with a Fuddruckers vibe, using the classic color palette used by many predecessors, including McDonalds and Fuddruckers themselves. The flag is symbolic of the visual marker inserted into the top bun of many higher end burgers when served and the overall silhouette of the logo resembles a burger.

I also included a more elegant and upscale, gastropub approach, incorporating minimalist linework and classic typography with muted tones. It is reminiscent of the type of place you love to grab a burger at, if you can afford it.
Since the concept of fast casual has taken America by storm, I included a direction that was geared toward that atmosphere. Half bakery and coffee bar, half burger joint, this version appeals to the younger crowd wanting good food and great atmosphere for a quick lunch or an after hours hangout. It is simple and to the point, with bold statements and zero frills.