A couple of weeks ago, in an MNB Radio meditation about the hamburger, I suggested that it is perfect metaphor for innovation and possibilities in the food business.
I said, in part:
Viewed as a commodity, a hamburger is just meat and a bun. But with a little innovation and imagination, a burger becomes something more, something special. It becomes something that gives the place that sells it a differential advantage.
The same thing goes for many of our stores and many of our products. Even in a time of economic duress, it continues to make sense to apply innovation and imagination to how we create and market them.
The entire commentary can be found at:
As part of my rhapsody for the hamburger, I listed a number of my favorite places to enjoy one…and invited MNB user to submit their own favorites. I said that the first 25 people to do so would be sent a free limited edition MNB canvas bag…and that’s when the dam burst.
I’m actually going to send bags to the 60 people who responded the fastest…just because I’m that kind of guy. (I had to stop somewhere…but for those of you who won, the bags are in the mail.)
It was a fascinating compilation. Minnesota and Wisconsin obviously are burger heaven for a lot of people. There are a few in Connecticut, my home state, that I’ve never heard of. And who would have thought that one burger joint in The Netherlands would be mentioned by two different people?
To be clear, I have not vetted this list of recommended burger joints. I am relying on the good nature of the people who submitted them. In a number of cases, the burger joints were recommended by a number of people, but only are listed here once.
And so, our list of the world’s best hamburgers is as follows, listed in alphabetical order:
1. 112 Eatery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
2. AJ’s Fine Foods, Scottsdale, Arizona (it is worth pointing out that this is the only supermarket that made the list!)
3. Anchor Bar & Grill, Superior, Wisconsin
4. Bar Lurcat, Minneapolis, Minnesota
5. Big Bun, Boise, Idaho.
6. Big Jud’s, Boise, Idaho
7. Bill Gray’s, Rochester, New York
8. Bubba’s Burgers, Kauai, Hawaii
9. Burger Bar, Norwalk, Connecticut
10. Burger Hut, Chico, California
11. Burger Tex, Austin, Texas
12. Burgermaster, Seattle, Washington
13. Burgermeester, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
14. Burgers, Shakes & Fries, Greenwich, Connecticut
15. Casper & Runyon’s Nook, St. Paul, Minnesota.
16. Charlie Beinlich’s, Northbrook, Illinois
17. Charlie Reidel’s, Rochester, New York
18. Charlie’s Hamburgers, Springfield, Pennsylvania
19. Chips, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
20. Colorado Grill, Fresno, California
21. Convention Grill, Edina, Minnesota
22. Country Burger, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
23. Cozy Inn, Salina, Kansas
24. Crazy Burger, Narragansett, Rhode Island
25. Crown Burger, Salt Lake City, Utah.
26. Crusier’s, Jacksonville, Florida
27. Culver’s, Phoenix, Arizona
28. Don’s Original, Rochester, New York
29. Dotty Dumplings Dowry, Madison, Wisconsin
30. Doug Out Pub and Grill, Richfield, Ohio
31. Fast Eddie’s Bon Aire, Alton, Illinois
32. Fat Franks, Bellows Falls, Vermont.
33. Federal Café, Minneapolis, Minnesota
34. Gilley’s, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
35. GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen), London, The United Kingdom
36. Grasshopper Also, Carlstad, New Jersey
37. Harmon’s Lunch, Portland, Maine
38. Haven Brothers, Providence, Rhode Island
39. Heart Attack Grill, Arizona.
40. Homer’s, Hickory, North Carolina
41. Hudson’s Hamburgers, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
42. Hut’s, Austin, Texas
43. Jerry's Drive Inn, Pensacola, Florida
44. Johnny B’s, Southlake, Texas
45. King’s Place, Miesville, Minnesota
46. Kopp’s Frozen Custard, Wisconsin
47. Kroll’s, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
48. Kuma’s Corner, Chicago, Illinois
49. LDR Char Pit, Rochester, New York
50. Lions Tap, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
51. Lurk’s Bar, Afton, Minnesota
52. Matt’s Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
53. McGuire’s Irish Pun, Pensacola, Florida
54. Miner’s Drive-In, Yakima, Wisconsin
55. Montreal French Fries, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts
56. Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, Northern California
57. Neils’ In & Out, La Grande, Oregon
58. P. Terry’s, Austin, Texas
59. Pak-A-Sak, Enid, Oklahoma
60. Rich’s Drive-In, Somers, Connecticut.
61. Rose’s, Canoga Park, California
62. Rotier’s, Nashville, Tennessee
63. Saluit, St. Paul, Minnesota
64. Schaller’s, Rochester, New York
65. Smith & Wollensky, New York, New York
66. Superior Bar & Grill, Superior, Wisconsin
67. Swensen’s Drive-Ins, Akron, Ohio.
68. Taylor’s, Loomis, California
69. Tebo's Gladstone, Oregon
70. Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburger, Meriden, Connecticut
71. The Blue Lantern, Buffalo, New York
72. The Cherry Cricket, Denver, Colorado
73. The Cotton Bottom, Salt Lake City, Utah.
74. The Craftsman, Minneapolis, Minnesota
75. The Station Café, Bentonville, Arkansas
76. Thurman’s Café, Columbus, Ohio.
77. Time Square Diner, Toronto, Canada
78. Tom Wahl’s, Rochester, New York
79. Town Topic, Kansas City, Missouri
80. Village Café, San Jose, California
81. Vincent, Minneapolis, Minnesota
82. White Hut, Springfield, Massachusetts
83. Whitey’s Booze and Burgers, Richfield, Ohio
84. Whitey’s Booze N’ Burgers, Richfield, Ohio
85. Wild Willy’s, York, Maine
86. Willie’s Weenie Wagon, Markham, Illinois
87. Zippy's, Kahului, Maui
Beyond being a great road map for where to get great burgers, this list makes a serious business point – that these are restaurants that have created for themselves differential advantages that make them stand out in people’s minds. It’s the burgers, the grilled onions, the fries, the shakes – in other words, it is the food. (Not the deals, not the packaging.) That’s something we all ought to be aiming for in our businesses.
Now, enough about business.
Go enjoy. I plan to.