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Cheese-Burger.net » Burger Blog http://www.cheese-burger.net Burgers, Cheeseburgers and stuff... Yes a website about Burgers. Fri, 16 Mar 2012 21:42:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.23 Is This Really the Best Burger in America? http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/is-this-really-the-best-burger-in-america.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/is-this-really-the-best-burger-in-america.html#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2011 17:33:12 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4700 When I started chronicling my own cheeseburger adventures (193 articles ago!), I began with my all-time favorite, The Double Coronary from The Vortex Bar & Grill in Atlanta. Living in this city has provided me an ideal vantage point from which to sample several others that lay claim to being the best you’ll ever eat. The Ghetto Burger from Ann’s Snack Bar certainly did not disappoint and sits bun-to-bun alongside my B.C.O.M.L. And the A5 Kobe burger from FLIP Burger Boutique was an unmitigated disaster as far as I was concerned, but Richard Blais’ hotspot has helped cement the ATL’s position in the minds of many as the Burger Capital of the World. Sure, NYC has Shake Shack and their linen-napkin burger destinations, and the fast-food cheebie is ingrained in the In-n-Out/Umami culture of Southern California, but every legitimate “Best Burger” list I’ve ever seen includes at least one of the Atlanta eateries I just mentioned… Or this one.

Yes, there’s another major player in the city’s burger biz that I’ve never told you about. That’s the fairly nondescript streetside storefront that’s home to what CNN and Alton Brown have each called the Best Burger in America… and I think it’s safe to say that both sources know a thing or two about a thing or two. It is perhaps the most hyped burger ever… and I’m here to tell you that it’s worth the deafening buzz. Ladies and gents, welcome to Holeman & Finch Public House and their legendary double-stack.

There is more than a great deal of mystique that surrounds this burger. And a lot of that aura is manufactured. For starters, it’s not even printed on the menu. You have to ask for it, but you can’t ask just any old time. Holeman & Finch serves their burger precisely at 10pm each night, never before. But don’t think you can just stroll in after a late night on the town for one of these beauties. The kitchen makes just 24 of them each night. Twenty-four. No more until 10pm the next night.* Some nights, they sell out in under a minute. But they never don’t sell out. It’s a secret, ultra-exclusive item, sold in very limited quantities, and with exceptionally narrow availability. The burger at Holeman & Finch is an event. And of course, that makes the average carnivore want it even more.

So here’s how it works. You need to arrive at the restaurant well before 10pm. Working your way past the valet stand and the $95,000 SUVs parked out front, you’ll realize that Holeman & Finch is NOT a burger joint. Once inside the swanky confines and seated at an uber-trendy too-small table, order something to tide you over if you’re feeling peckish, but give your server a clear heads-up that you’re here for the burger. Since it’s not listed on the menu amidst cheffy offerings like pan-fried rabbit livers, veal brains, and head cheese, here’s the rundown. It’s a double cheeseburger, both freshly-ground chuck-and-brisket patties topped with Kraft American.  Tucked between the patties is a smattering of red onion, and atop it all are house-made b&b pickles. It’s nestled in between buns baked by their own next-door bakery (who also happens to supply a who’s who of Atlanta restaurants with buns and breads) and served up with a handful of fries and servings of house-made ketchup and mustard.

At 10pm on the nose, a bullhorn sounds from somewhere in the restaurant that I couldn’t see. The wait staff repeats the call in each of the establishment’s smaller rooms. “What time is it?” she yells. Knowing patrons shout back in answer, “Burger Time!!!” And then it’s like the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, with diners calling out to their servers, vying to get their attention from across the room, holding outstretched fingers to claim their portion of the night’s burger bounty. If you’ve properly warned your server, she’ll be watching out for you at Burger Time and give you a knowing nod. A few minutes later, 24 burgers all come out of the kitchen at once and are delivered to the lucky tables.

Drop. Dead. Freaking. Gorgeous. It’s not a huge burger by any means, and in fact, feels smallish in your hands. But there is heft to it, and you find yourself practically cradling it as you bring it to your lips, pressing the squishy buns into the warm, juicy meat. By this point in the transaction, you’ve already endured a good bit of anticipation, and there is now that small glimmer of skepticism- fear that the burger will not live up to the hype. But the first bite is spectacular, even revelatory. It is nearly impossible to not make an audible noise as your work that initial mouthful around your taste buds. The onion and pickles provide a healthy crunch and slightly sweet tang, while the beef and cheese are in perfect proportion to one another. The thin patties dictate an internal temp that’s closer to well done than anything, but it’s not lacking for juiciness, and is further lubricated by the melting cheese and buttery bun. If this isn’t burger perfection, it’s awfully damn close.

Yes, the whole 24-per-night-and-only-at-10pm-after-we-announce-it-with-a-bullhorn thing is shtick, despite Holeman & Finch’s best attempts to spin it otherwise. “The thought behind the minimal number and the 10:00 serving is not a gimmick; it’s just the opposite,” reads the company website’s page devoted to the burger, “A handcrafted burger takes a lot of time to prepare correctly.” According to my server, the limited number is a function of the tiny kitchen. With a vast menu of overly fancypants items, there’s room on the trays for just 24 of the buns at once. Let me be clear on this: The number of buns that the kitchen can handle dictates the number of “the best burgers in America” that can be served. More buns would mean cutting the menu down and becoming something more akin to a run-of-the-mill burger joint… or maybe even worse, an average restaurant with half a dozen awesome dishes that no one orders because they’re too busy with burgers. It IS a gimmick to elevate the burger to this kind of exalted status; it works at Holeman & Finch only because the burger is totally worthy of this kind of exultation.

When the subject of my job comes up, I’m invariably asked, “So who has the best burger?” My standard response has always been, “Either The Vortex or Ann’s, depending on your mood.” But truthfully, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Holeman & Finch in that answer. Gimmicky hype notwithstanding, it’s a strong contender for Best Burger Anywhere. I may be no closer to finding my true B.C.O.M.L. now than when I started this thing two and a half years ago. In fact, I’m further away, ‘cos I keep adding nominees. But at least I’m in the right city to continue the quest.

Burger on, my brothers and sisters.

*Can’t make it for that 10pm nightly seating? The burgers are also available at Holeman & Finch’s Sunday brunch, where fewer menu items means unlimited burger quantities!

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Smashburger Smashing Their Way Toward the Top of the Burgersphere http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/smashburger-smashing-their-way-toward-the-top-of-the-burgersphere.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/smashburger-smashing-their-way-toward-the-top-of-the-burgersphere.html#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2011 18:08:00 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4686 When I first wrote about Smashburger in November ’09, the Colorado-based chain had “a handful” of locations in 11 states. They also had visions of expansion- aiming for 200 stores by 2014. They’re on track, with current company propaganda boasting 24 states and almost 130 locations… with many more listed as “Coming Soon.”

Atlanta’s first outpost opened in July, but I refrained from going too soon. It’s easy to get everything right when the company founder is overseeing the details at a staged media tour on ribbon-cutting weekend. A more telling test is whether an unannounced lunchtime visit on a random Thursday four months later produces a raveworthy burger.

Insert your favorite superlative gushy adjectives here; Smashburger rocked, as fast casual burgs go. The chain’s gimmick is the way their third- and half-pound meatballs are “smashed” into a hot griddle, supposedly resulting in that crust of a truly great diner-style burger. (Photo by Darin Mcgregor, The Rocky Mountain News)

Your results may vary. Look closely; mine was missing the crispy coating of char I had hoped for.

Thankfully, though, there was plenty to get jazzed about. Like the size. Check out how much of this  patty was hanging over the edges of the bun.

In Smashburger parlance, that’s a “Big Smash,” a half-pound patty. (A regular “Smash” is a third-pounder. You can double either for an upcharge. There’s also a “Small Smash” that no self-respecting carnivore would bother with.) While Smashburger prides itself on the geographically-appropriate burger on each store’s menu, I wasn’t here for the Atlanta. (It’s topped with peach BBQ sauce- never works on a burger- plus grilled jalapenos, a locally-produced pimento cheese, and coleslaw- which I don’t like at all.) Instead, I went basic: American cheese, LTO, and a slathering of the chain’s “Smash sauce,” a yellow-tinged spread which seems to be a mayo-mustard mashup. Put it all together on an egg bun, and you’ve got a damn sexy lunch date.

The total package wasn’t without its flaws. The smashed patty certainly offered a lot of beef surface area, but it made that single slice of American look positively puny, leaving much of the burger naked. Also, I got A LOT of onion. Bonus points for red, but my God, who needs an entire cross-section slice???

The fries disappointed. I tried the signature Smashfries, “tossed with rosemary, olive oil, and garlic.” Sound almost high-end, don’t they??? Despite being beautifully fried, I found them to be boring and bland. (Go back to that topmost burger shot and count how many flecks of rosemary you spot.) Next visit, I’ll try the shoestring fries or the sweet potato Smashfries.

Those are fairly minor complaints, though, ‘cos this thing worked on every other level. The bun is especially noteworthy. Spongy, rich, and slightly sweet, it was the perfect complement to this big beefy burger. It did start to fall apart as I neared the end, but then again, so did the patty itself. My guess is that the smashing technique makes the thin meat somewhat delicate and prone to crumbling after 10-15 minutes of manhandling.

In all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed my debut Smashburger experience, with plenty on the menu to lure me back. (Haagen-Dazs-and-Nutter-Butter milkshakes!) I’d choose it over most any fast-food burger, and I’d probably rank Smashburger better than fast casual faves Fuddruckers and even Five Guys. It did strike me as being a bit expensive, one of those places where they manage to a la carte you into a fifteen-dollar lunch in a blink. But the uber-friendly customer service is exceptional, the atmosphere pleasant, and the burgers undeniably tasty. Welcome to the bigs, Smashburger.

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White Castle Slider Stuffing http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/white-castle-slider-stuffing.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/white-castle-slider-stuffing.html#comments Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:11:50 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4672 For those of you who just can’t put your cheeseburger cravings on hold, even for one day…

Or for the Thanksgiving Day host looking to augment the traditional menu with a big fat side of WTF?!?

The burger braniacs at White Castle have come to your rescue with a slider stuffing for your holiday turkey. Yes, turkey stuffing. Made from genuine White Castle sliders. Actually, the recipe submitted by a Columbus, Ohio family was the winner of the 1991 White Castle Cook-Off and has appeared on the White Castle website for years. But understandably, it gets resurrected each year about this time by holiday feasters looking to tweak their turkey with a dash of outrageousness.

Really, though, it’s not that gastronomically radical if you break it down by ingredient. Sausage and bread is a pretty common stuffing base, so a sack of White Castle sliders is more than halfway there. Add a few basic seasonings and some liquid for moisture, and this recipe is more about the secret-ingredient shock value than an overly exotic taste. In fact, if you didn’t tell your guests how the stuffing was made, there’s a good chance they’d never know. But what would be the fun of that?

For this recipe, it’s probably best to 86 the cheese from your order, and you’ll want to remove the pickles before you get started. A sackful of 10 sliders will make about 9 cups of stuffing, enough for a 10- to 12-pound bird. For a larger turkey, add one more mini-burger for each pound. In the South, could you get away with subbing a case of Krystals? Probably. Hell, for that matter, there’s no reason you couldn’t place an appropriately-scaled to-go order from your favorite full-size burger joint. But there’s something about “slider stuffing” that just rolls off the tongue.

It’s not exactly like the Pilgrims did it back in 1621, and it’ll likely never gain a permanent place on the Turkey Day table alongside the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, but this is one side dish that’ll give you something a little off the wall to be thankful for as you fall asleep in front of a football game this Thanksgiving.

 

White Castle Turkey Stuffing

10 White Castle hamburgers, pickles removed

1-1/2 cups celery, diced

1-1/4 tsp. ground thyme

1-1/2 tsp. ground sage

3/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting as you would normally.

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Would You Pay $100 for This Burger? http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/umami-100-burger.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/umami-100-burger.html#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 13:27:45 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4622 What’s your dollar limit for a burger? Where do you draw the line? As soon as you hit about six bucks, you’re out of fast food territory. Fifteen is usually the upper end of the fanciest burger at most specialty restaurants. Linen-napkin-type steakhouses and such can get away with burgers in the 20s. That’s about where most rational people decide enough is enough. The one time I crossed that threshold and paid $40 for a Kobe burger, I regretted every single bite. So the latest offering from a chic California mini-chain seems like a monster gamble.

(photo from Umami Burger)

That, my burgerloving brothers and sisters, is a $100 burger that’s been unveiled by uber-It-joint Umami Burger. And just to rub that excessive price tag in your face, it’s called the MNO Burger, which stands for “Money is No Object.”

Suck it, 99%.

Start with dry-aged beef from a single Wagyu cow. But not just any Wagyu cow, mind you; this one was grassfed as opposed to the more common diet of grain. The beef is hand-ground and -formed. Now top it with Grade-A Hudson Valley foie gras, caramelized onion marmalade, and a 1977 Croft Vintage Port reduction. Not gratuitous enough for you? Splendid. On its way out of the kitchen, it’s hit with a quarter-inch layer of freshly-shaved Italian white truffles, which retail for upwards of $1,000 PER POUND.

The MNO is available only during truffle season, which is only September through November (as I’m sure you already knew). But don’t run to the ATM quite yet, thinking that a lowly peon like you can just shuffle in to Umami Burger and try this C-note special as a one-time splurge. You can’t even order the MNO on a solo lunch run. Nope, this burger is so exclusive that you have to book a special event party thru the restaurant to get it: 25-person minimum in-store, 50-person minimum at your place.

So… would you???

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TV Channel to be Added to McDonald’s Menu http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/tv-channel-to-be-added-to-mcdonalds-menu.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/tv-channel-to-be-added-to-mcdonalds-menu.html#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2011 11:57:44 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4606 Want fries with that Big Mac? How about some original TV programming?

In a somewhat eyebrow-raising move, burger giant McDonald’s has announced the rollout of “McTV.” A digital in-store network featuring content produced specifically for Mickey D’s, the McDonald’s Channel will soon be up and on the air in 800 restaurants in Southern and Central California after successful testing in LA, Las Vegas, and San Diego. But lest you think this is a small-potatoes closed circuit venture, consider this: the California market alone will reach up to 20 million sets of eyeballs per month. That makes it a truly formidable force that could compete with (and beat) many more established networks on basic cable. If the network performs well in Cali, expect the channel to go nationwide.

(photo by Liz O. Baylen, LA Times)

Allen Adamson from brand-building firm Landor Associates talked to the LA Times about the strategic move to reach customers. “While they’re in line getting their hamburger there is no escape… [It's] “one of the last bastions where you have a captive audience,” he said. “The podiums where companies can tell their stories have eroded… after the Super Bowl, the list gets very short very fast.”

But the McDonald’s channel won’t air a never-ending rotation of current and classic Golden Arches ads. Instead, they’ve arranged for original programming from the likes of BBC America, LA news affiliate KABC, and Survivor creator Mark Burnett. The lineup will reportedly include heartwarming human interest features like “The McDonald’s Achievers,” which profiles local high school and college athletes; “Mighty Moms,” spotlighting local mothers juggling home life with careers; reports on musical acts, tours, and new releases; segments covering fashion, art, nightlife, lifestyle, and culture news; along with interactive elements on Web- and mobile-based platforms.

Only eight minutes per hour will be dedicated to ads, and McDonald’s-themed spots will occupy just 90 seconds of that, according to Leland Edmondson, founder of ChannelPort, the company tapped to spearhead the new network. “This network is not intended to be all about McDonald’s. It is all about the consumer.” But Edmondson allows that there may be some occasional segments on aspects of McDonald’s food operation or the chain’s philanthropy efforts by Ronald McDonald House Charities.


It’s all part of the clown’s efforts to stay relevant in the crowded fast-food/quick-service restaurant landscape. With many locations offering free Wi-Fi and upscale decor, McDonald’s is clearly aiming to compete with your favorite local coffee shop or cafe, a place where you might meet with someone or go just to hang for a while. “People today are using our restaurants differently than they have in the past,” said Danya Proud, a McDonald’s USA spokesperson, “they’ve become more of a destination.” And they’re convinced that two 42- to 46-inch hi-def screens will help. (The screens will be visible and audible from 70% of the restaurant, with designated “quiet zones” for those who wish to inhale their Quarter Pounders in peace.)

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Guy Fieri Taking Burgers Out to Sea on Carnival Cruise Ships http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/guy-fieri-taking-burgers-out-to-sea-on-carnival-cruise-ships.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/guy-fieri-taking-burgers-out-to-sea-on-carnival-cruise-ships.html#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2011 01:51:53 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4565 Seventy-eight percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. So now there’s officially no place on the planet you can go without being bombarded by Guy Fieri.

(Food Network photo)

The ubiquitous celebrichef has announced a partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines in which he’ll lend his name and culinary kick-assitude to a chain of gourmet burger restaurants onboard the company’s ships. As part of a $500 million upgrade initiative, the Carnival vessels Liberty, Breeze, Conquest, and Glory will soon be the floating home of Guy’s Burger Joint.

If in a million years you would have told me that I was going to be involved with a cruise line and doing burgers, I would have told you I would have gone to the moon first,” Fieri told reporters at an event trumpeting the deal. Fieri has reportedly already developed a host of custom burger recipes for the venture and put his pinkie-ringed fingerprint on touches like self-serve condiment stations which will offer seafaring carnivores spreads like chipotle mayo, special BBQ sauce, garlic aioli, and three different hot sauces. Want to dust your burg with garlic and herb seasonings? Sea salt? Hot chili? Guy’s got you covered, also offering high-end toppings such as sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, blue cheese crumbles, and vine-ripened tomatoes. “The burger that we’re making is legit,” he says. “It’s a straightforward, real deal, quality burger. That’s what it has to be.Meals at Guy’s Burger Joint will be free to cruisers, included as part of their vacation package.

The look of Guy’s Burger Joint, located on the ships’ pool decks, will be muscle-car garage chic, meant to evoke the feel of a California roadside burger shack. Life-size surfboards will mix with chrome pipes and car hoods… ‘cos apparently nothing embodies that oceangoing spirit like servers in mechanics’ coveralls with their personalized nicknames embroidered on the front.

Clearly, it’s an awesome opportunity for Mr. Fieri, although I personally find his in-your-face cooler-than-thou schtick annoying and hope that his fifteen minutes of fame are just about up. (The irony is, I’d probably get along great with him if he were my next-door neighbor. Seriously, though, tone it down…) But I’m unsure what to make of this. Carnival has obviously thrown a shipload of money at him so that they can pirate his name for their boatburger boutiques.

I don’t, however, understand the business side of it enough to figure out what Carnival gets out of the deal. The burgers are free if you’re onboard the ship, so there’s no more money to be made. Surely they don’t believe that Guy’s Burger Joint is the thing that’s going to lure customers into buying a four-figure cruise package… do they?!?Gee, honey, I didn’t think I’d be interested in spending a week at sea, but you say that the spiky-haired fat dude from TV with the sweatbands on his forearms and sunglasses on the back of his head has a burger restaurant on the boat? Well, pack my Dramamine, I’ll meet you on the lido deck.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines features a Johnny Rockets onboard a handful of their ships… supposedly charging $4.95 for all you can eat. I’m afraid, though, that no shipboard burger joint- no matter whose name is on it- would be the deciding factor in my vacation plans, but hey… whatever floats your boat.

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Domino’s Founder to Try Burger Delivery Biz http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/dominos-founder-to-try-burger-delivery-biz.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/dominos-founder-to-try-burger-delivery-biz.html#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 04:24:27 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4555 Would you order a cheeseburger from this guy?

Tom Monaghan is hoping so. The 74-year-old founder of Domino’s Pizza is getting into the burger business, according to reports out of Naples, Florida… and he’s bringing with him the revolutionary right-to-your-door delivery model that changed the world of ‘za.

That’s Monaghan on the right in that photo from Lexey Small and the Naples Daily News. On the left is Adrian Martinez, who’s been tapped to manage the new venture, reportedly to be called Gyrene Hamburger. (More on the name in a moment.) “Hamburgers are more popular than pizza,” Monaghan has said. “My bag is delivery. So I thought I had something there… But there’s no guarantee it’s going to work.

The Gyrene menu will be astonishingly stripped-down: a classic double bacon Angus cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard, and pickle… or a deluxe which adds lettuce, tomato, and mayo. That’s it. Really. Just two $6 burgers. No substitutes, no sides, not even beverages will be offered. The stores will have no seating and no drive-thru window. That’s because all orders (two-burg minimum, please) will be delivered to within 1.5 miles of the store… within 15 minutes or less. “The speed will be in the store, not on the road,” Monaghan gushes. “It’s going to be a real gung-ho atmosphere.

That’s where the name comes in. “Gyrene” is military jargon for a Marine, thought to be a compounding of the term “G.I.” and the title “Marine.” (Monaghan spent a few years in the Corps back in the ’50s. It made quite an impression on him; he started a private Catholic college- and an entire town surrounding it- near Naples called Ave Maria University whose athletic teams are called the Gyrenes.)

And Monaghan plans to run with that “Semper Fi” theme throughout his new burger biz. Each prospective Gyrene employee will undergo “burger boot camp” before being issued their official camouflage uniform. Monaghan promises the stores will be “as clean as barracks,” customers will be saluted and addressed as “sir” or “ma’am,” and drivers will jog your order the last few steps to your door.

Gyrene Hamburger is set to open its first 800-square-foot location within the next two months, and may expand nationwide or even internationally beyond that, with Monaghan predicting that the concept could eventually become bigger than the 6,000-store pizza empire he made so famous (and then sold in 1998).

For more on Gyrene Hamburger and Tom Monaghan, check out Laura Layden’s in-depth article on the Naples Daily News website.

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290-Pound Man Sues White Castle Over Seats http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/290-pound-man-sues-white-castle-over-seats.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/290-pound-man-sues-white-castle-over-seats.html#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2011 21:38:10 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4534 Martin Kessman has a beef with his local White Castle restaurant, and he’s not taking it sitting down. The 64-year-old has filed suit in Manhattan’s federal court, suing the chain for unspecified claims. And bigger chairs.

See, Kessman weighs in at almost three bills. And when the 290-pound stockbroker strolled in to a Nanuet (NY) White Castle in April 2009 for some slyders, it seems he couldn’t quite slide himself into the restaurant’s plastic seats. “They’re stationary booths,” he told the New York Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.” After trying unsuccessfully to contort his plus-sized frame into the booth, Kessman limped out of the eatery, “mortified and in pain from smacking his knee into one of the table’s metal supports,” according to the Post story. And that’s when he sat down (presumably in a much larger chair) and put pen to paper, writing a letter to White Castle’s corporate headquarters.

“As I looked around the restaurant, I saw that there were no tables and chairs that could accommodate a person that merely wanted to sit down and eat his meal,” Kessman wrote. (And when Kessman writes “a person,” he of course means “an average-sized NFL offensive lineman.”) But instead of customer service satisfaction, Kessman- who claims to have no problem fitting into seats at other fast food establishments or on airplanes- got a series of “very condescending letters” in return… plus coupons in each of the letters for free burgers. “But the cheese was extra!” the lawsuit rages.

Amazingly, Kessman took the restaurant up on the free food, sending his wife to get the complimentary burgs. To go. “I did not want to set foot in the store… I have been like an outcast,” Kessman complains. He maintains that White Castle’s booths “violate the civil rights of fat people,” pointing out that the Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people.”

The store apparently did promise at some point to change out its seating. “They sent me specs and everything, about how the booths were going to be enlarged and made comfortable for people with a little more weight,” Kessman said. “Two and a half years went by, and nothing was done.” White Castle has countered by noting that Kessman could have simply asked a store manager for a regular chair.

The Nanuet store is expected to undergo a renovation that will include larger seating options, but a spokesperson for the chain declined to offer a timetable. (And if there were a timetable, it’s unclear as to whether Kessman would be able to belly up to it comfortably.)

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McDonald’s Goes Retro with 1955 Burger http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/mcdonalds-goes-retro-with-1955-burger.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/mcdonalds-goes-retro-with-1955-burger.html#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2011 17:11:54 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4522 Ronald McDonald has been partying across Europe like it’s 1955.

That’s the year that Ray Kroc opened the very first McDonald’s location in Des Plaines, Illinois. To commemorate that historic occasion, the megachain has introduced a brand new burger, which it has been adding to the Golden Arches’ menu boards all over Europe. And in the latest chapter of this story (which has been closely followed and reported on by our burger brethren over at BurgerBusiness), rumors are now swirling about an upcoming US debut.

For the record, the 1955 Burger bears no resemblance whatsoever to anything that was on the Mickey D’s menu in that freshman year. It’s sparsely topped by today’s standards- bacon, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, and caramelized grilled onions- but it likely would have ranked as the craziest concoction ever back in the day. So where did it come from?

The 1955 Burger first debuted last year in Germany, complete with a clever TV spot, viewable here. In the ad, an apron-clad housewife in “Chicago 1955″ rocks around the clock in her Formica-for-miles kitchen while whipping up a batch of burgers, tasting and tweaking the handwritten recipe as she goes. The action flashes forward to present day Germany, where an earnest young McDonald’s employee with loads of free time during his shift has somehow found Betty Lou’s cookbook and duplicated the burg, knowing he has a bona fide hit on his hands. In fact, the 1955 Burger became the “best-performing sandwich” ever in Germany, according to McDonald’s brass.

The 1955 Burger then spread across the continent to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Sweden. Now the chain has apparently set its sights on England as the next landing spot for the retro burger, with a British debut set for sometime in the next several weeks. So will the new burger make it across the pond? While the clown has remained tight-lipped about a stateside rollout, the TV ads being used to currently sell the 1955 Burger in Denmark would certainly suggest it. Two of them can be watched here and here.

(Screen grab by Burger Business)

Both commercials reach into the way-back machine to interview living folks with real-life ties to that first 1955 McDonald’s in Des Plaines. In the first, a customer from the opening day of business in Mickey D’s history recalls not even knowing what was on the menu as he approached the window. In the second, an employee at the Des Plaines store reminisces about his daily walk to work, which took him through a neighbor’s yard, where he met his future wife. These spots have incredible production value and unquestionably cost a small fortune to shoot (just think about tracking these seniors down and taking them back to the original location, now all gussied up with gorgeous neon lighting and freshly-wetted pavement, for long and lingering camera shots of the reunions), all celebrating “a tribute to the beginning.” The ad agency swears in a press release that these spots (English-language spots, no less) were created solely for Scandinavia, but it’s really hard to imagine that everyone went to this kind of trouble just to sell a few extra burgers in Copenhagen, isn’t it?

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A-List Actor to Open Burger Restaurant in Boston http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/a-list-actor-to-open-burger-restaurant-in-boston.html http://www.cheese-burger.net/stories/a-list-actor-to-open-burger-restaurant-in-boston.html#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2011 13:03:50 +0000 http://www.cheese-burger.net/?p=4509 Underwear model. Rapper. Oscar nominee. Soon, Mark Wahlberg will add a new line to his resume: Burger baron. That’s because the 40-year-old star of Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, and The Departed will be opening up a 4,300 square-foot burger joint in Boston.

Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

That’s Mark and his older brother Donnie- himself a celeb as one of the original New Kids on the Block- who’ll also be one of the burgermeisters behind the new venture. Also in on the deal is another Wahlberg brother, Paul, an established chef, shown here in an AP photo with Mark and Mama Wahlberg, Alma.

The name of the restaurant (as if you couldn’t have guessed by now) will be Wahlburgers. “It just works,” Ed St. Croix, Paul’s business partner, told the Boston Herald. “It’s a good-sounding brand, so we could put out the product with a great name people could relate to.”

Yeah, tell that to the folks in upstate New York. That’s where they’ve been enjoying Wahlburgers for over fifty years! Turns out that the “great name people could relate to” already belonged to a small chain of eight restaurants called Tom Wahl’s in and around Rochester.

Their longtime specialty, the Wahlburger, is a “ground steak sandwich” topped with melted Swiss cheese, grilled smoked ham, lettuce, and the ubiquitous special sauce. USA Today even chose it to represent the Empire State in their list of 51 great burger joints in 2010, passing up NYC heavy hitters like Shake Shack, The Spotted Pig, Burger Barrel, and BLT Burger. (As for that “ground steak” thing, Tom Wahl’s makes a big fat deal out of that. The word “hamburger” is not allowed on the premises, in an attempt to distinguish its product from everyone else’s. There was even a sign at one time that read, “Do Not Say the ‘H’ Word.”)

The Rochester faithful were reportedly not eager to give away their locally-famous sandwich to a fancy-pants actor just because he liked the name. “We have a trademark on that name,” explained a Tom Wahl’s staffer when asked by WHAM-TV. “I’d be very disappointed because we get these all the time- once a week,” one customer said. Another agreed, ”I think it would just be unfair. They should be the ones to change.”

Photo by Michael Johnson, special to the Daily News in upstate NY

Yeah, right. The Wahlbergs rolled into town- presumably with a posse of lawyers in tow and their A-list checkbook at the ready- and a deal was soon struck. The Wahlbergs were able to secure “full-spectrum” rights to the name Wahlburger (for an undisclosed amount, of course). With 80 seats indoors and another 40 on an outdoor patio, Wahlburgers (complete with full liquor license) will open soon in Boston’s Hingham Shipyard, across the street from the brothers’ Italian restaurant, Alma Nove, named for their mother. The group also has plans on a pizza joint next spring.

As for Tom Wahl’s, they’ll get to keep that name on their restaurants, but will have to come up with a new moniker for their signature sammie. I vote for “The Marky Mark Burger.”

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