Sat, Dec 20, 2014 22:02
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Burgers & Bouffants

Once there was a restaurant called Burgermakers connected to a beauty shop.  

I discovered Burgermakers on a Lunchquest, a long running weekly search for restaurants that I started back in the early 1980s.

The owner, Wayne and his wife ran both the café and the salon at once, walking back and forth through a narrow hallway.  It was one of those economic combinations that you never expect for a variety of health and business reasons.

Wayne’s wife had an early 1950s bouffant as high as Marge Simpsons, but dyed a bright blonde.  Wayne had bouffant hair that looked like a cross between Elvis and Oral Roberts.

The business was in a section of a town that wasn’t known for code enforcements.  The old strip center they inhabited had been vacant for years before Burgermakers and the beauty shop appeared.

My first visit there, I worried about the dual business of women with similar bouffant under old style bubble dryers connected with foodservice on the other.  I worried about chemicals and hair making the journey to whatever I ordered.  I wondered what health laws were violated as Wayne and his wife wandered to and from their beauty shop customers back to the grill.

After my first meal, I no longer cared about code violations or health laws. 

I ordered the 4x4—the siren of all burgers.  You found yourself driven by a gluttony you never knew you possessed until you bit into one. And you had to mash it down to get into your mouth.  The four-by-four was a hamburger.  It was four quarter-pound patties of beef, with four slabs of thick cheddar, and four layers of thick fried bacon, onions, pickles, lettuce and mustard.  It was a poster burger for SuperSizing long before trademarked the phrase in the early 2000’s.

Each time, we ate what was the most enjoyable lunch of our lives.  We couldn’t believe that something could be so good so often, like Narnia’s enchanted Turkish Delight.  We ate and wondered about Wayne and his wife, who we believed adopted their styles in the 1950s, and remained frozen in time. We wondered how they came up with the idea for a burger/bouffant business and came up with several alternate timeline theories.

As we ate our 4x4s, we drank IBC root beer and for dessert, ate a fried chocolate pie. We noted how content Wayne and Wayne’s wife appeared.  They juggled food preparation and dye jobs and never would become rich. But they seemed to be the aging Happy Days’ couple in an economic reality of their own creation that sucked us all into another world. We knew we had stumbled into a living legend for we were usually the only ones there.

Then, we all scurried to different havens at work to weather the afternoon in digestive hibernation.  

Burgermakers finally shut down after someone veered off the road and crashed into the cafe.  No insurance, no means to rebuild and reopen. 

Whenever I discover a hair in my food at a restaurant, I don’t feel sick. I feel nostalgic.  I still mourn the passing of 4x4s and chocolate fried pies decades after its death, as do my friends and think about the bouffants of Wayne and his wife.