The battle of the burger continues with a twistEditorial Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
If there is one food that America is definitely known for, it has to be the hamburger. For centuries, we have been consuming them avidly. Just look around, everywhere you turn you can find a new hamburger joint popping up.
It almost seems like the clock has been turned back 50 years – when diners and malt shops were all the rage and your big Saturday night out was to go and get a burger and fries. This is often the case now and I’m not talking about the fast food havens of McDonald’s and Burger King, but new chic burger places, many of which have opened in San Diego.
The history of the hamburger dates back to the 15th century when ground beef was considered a valued delicacy. As the centuries evolved, so did the iconic dish and it was officially named after the town it originated from, Hamburg, Germany.
We didn’t see the “burger” over in the U.S. until the mid 18th and 19th centuries. Brought over by immigrants, different versions appeared as restaurants started to make their own styles. It has been reported that Delmonico’s in New York City was the first non-fast food restaurant to place it on a menu, back in the early 18th century.
As time moved forward, so did the hamburger. Fast food establishments started a rage and revolution that is a multibillion dollar industry spanning the world. Probably the most famous is McDonald’s, who operate an astonishing 33,000 locations worldwide. McDonald’s generates more than $20 billion in revenue each year. Its rival Burger King is not far behind.
The new joints that have popped up around our city aren’t quite seeing those numbers, but they are certainly making an impact on the industry. Burger Lounge is an excellent example. Started here in San Diego, they took the fast food concept and added fresh organic ingredients. All this happens in a hip style setting with mood lighting and contemporary furnishings. They are rapidly expanding with new locations even popping up in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
Their burgers are freshly made, cooked to order and served with a variety of sauce and topping choices. Healthy salads make an appearance as do alternative options like turkey and veggie burgers. They added the component of beer and wine which has proven to be a huge success.
SmashBurger is quickly coming right up on the heels of Burger Lounge. Taking the same idea, they are bringing in elements of club music and alcohol, not just beer and wine. Using the fast food model in a different way, their chosen décor stays more on the side of traditional, as in an updated McDonald’s with a twist.
Burgers here are all about the quality, but their way of serving them is quite different. They offer two sizes, Smash and Big Smash and give you the option to build your own with a ton of different choices. Unique to them, as well, is that every menu is specifically crafted to reflect the taste and flavors at the location of the city and state.
On a smaller scale, we have our local chain, Crazee Burger. They choose to serve their tasty burgers in a European bistro style. You can sit at their wine bar or grab a local craft brew from the drafts and watch the game that’s playing above.
All in all the competition is definitely on as to who can take the fast food concept and spin it with fresh and healthy ingredients and serve it with fun flair. I have a strong feeling that these places are going to take off like rocket ships.
Think about when McDonald’s and Burger King first opened as rivals. To this day they compete and not only battle it out on the food and quality front, but also on Wall Street. Both are publically traded companies and their stocks have held steady, even in this economic whirlwind we have been in. Their story has to be one of the most famous in history and it looks like it might just be repeating itself.
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