Thursday May 3, 2012
A certain casual dining restaurant chain is offering 65-cent burgers. We explore.
First things first. We don't include chains in our restaurant listings here at LocalEats. Not the kind that stretch across multiple states, provide unlimited breadsticks or have Jackalopes wearing sunglasses on the walls. If a beloved, successful restaurant sprouts a few regional locations and keeps it in the family, we've got no problem with that. And though it is our mission to spotlight only the best locally owned restaurants and guide users to them (and away from the mega-chains), sometimes desperation and/or curiosity get the better of us in our everyday lives. Today, Shoney's, an "American Family Dining Restaurant" boasting over 240 units, celebrates their 65th anniversary by selling their "All-American Burger" for 65 cents. A few other hunger-stricken employees and I caught wind of this and remembered that there's a well-worn Shoney's at the bottom of the treacherous hill that our office sits atop. Eventually curiosity, hunger and our cheapskate tendencies won out. A restaurant burger for 65 cents: it couldn't be that bad, right?
When I think of Shoney's, I recall many-a trip to the breakfast bar after church with my siblings. We were partial to the French toast sticks, which of course could be topped with cherries (or strawberries) in a gloopy, sugar-shock inducing syrup. After the meal, we'd race to grab a free lollipop out of the cardboard tree - invariably, an already opened (possibly pre-used) sucker would be sticking to the others. It'd been quite a few days since I darkened the doorway of a Shoney's. Anyway, on to the burgers. The crowded lobby and short wait indicated that the promotion was a success, considering it was Thursday lunch at a somewhat hard to find location. The 65-cent burger came by itself on a sad little styrofoam plate with a miniature American flag toothpick sticking in it (proudly claiming this burger for the U.S. of A.). As for the quality: not too bad. It came topped with the usual suspects: a large serving of shredded iceburg lettuce, two red onion circles, two pickles and a couple of flavorless tomatoes. The meat was fairly dry and the bun buttered to high heaven. That being said, it was a satisfactory enough burger on the whole. Better than a typical fast-food burger, but slightly inferior to your average casual chain concept burger. It was well-worth the 65 cents - perhaps just not the $5.99 it normally fetches. Much to the chagrin of our friendly waitress, we didn't opt for dessert. The drinks and sides padded the check sufficiently. Don't expect an upcoming report when they give away free pieces of their famous (for the wrong reasons) strawberry pie at the end of the month.