Monday, September 24, 2007


"FAT BURGER" has come to Atlantic City.

While this statement might have little impact on the vegetarian segment of my readership, everyone else will likely flock over to the Borgata Casino's food court, to over-pay for America's next hamburger franchise giant.

A smash throughout California, FAT BURGER was founded in Los Angeles by Ms. Lovie Yancey in 1952. Buoyed by the slogan, "The last great hamburger stand," their gimmick is fast-food...cooked to order. After you make your selections, Fat Burger gives you a number. When your food is ready, an employee delivers it to your table.

Their ambiance also includes a free jukebox at every location...however you can pay for YOUR song to be played ahead of all the freebies. I also learned from Wikipedia that references to Fat Burger on TV, movies and song lyrics are plentiful. Apparently it was a common destination for Lamont Sanford on "Sanford and Son."

Fat Burger's popularity helped them expand and by the early 1990's, it spread throughout the west and into Canada. New Jersey now boasts three Fat Burger locations and 82 more national franchises are already in the works.

Later this week, I will be returning to Fat Burger for the first time in 27 years. My first visit was with a friend from Las Vegas, Jeff, who was featured in my short story, "LOOKING DOWN AT LAS VEGAS."

While in LA, Jeff and I looked up Len, the brother of one of my college buddies. Len, I later learned was unemployed in the truest sense of the word and had no car...but he was kind enough to show us around LA in Jeff's car and let us treat him to lunch.

Later, he had us drive him to Beverly Hills to see a Mohammad Ali boxing match on cable. In 1980, cable TV was not widespread and seemed reserved for only the most affluent of affluent people. As we pulled up to a mansion, Paul Newman's joint was pointed out up the street. Len then added, George C. Scott's property touches this one out back. At the door, we were unceremoniously greeted and let in.

The long, wide bluish foyer featured giant tube-like fish tanks inlaid into the wall. Like a small version of the Baltimore Aquarium, these tubes snaked over doorway and seemed to go into all the other rooms. (I once mentioned these fish tanks to one of my readers, Mikeinmacao, he's a tropical fish enthusiast...and he assured me that you'd have to be filthy rich just to keep the tanks clean).

The room with the TV (it was probably 19-inch...affluence in terms of TV screen size certainly has skyrocketed since 1980), also had the fish tanks. The fight was already in progress and the room was clouded with various kinds of smoke and littered with stoned bodies.

The only reason why we wound up at this "party" was Len acted as a middle man in cocaine deals...getting a commission from both ends. You may recall that I used this concept in my novel, "IF IT AIN'T NAILED DOWN," as a way for the main character (Dennis LaRue) to accumulate cash resources to fund his goal in life.

Before Len left us, he pointed out a young adult curled in a corner who was seemingly hallucinating on something.
He said, "Do you recognize him?"
Jeff and I said, "No."
Len said, "He was one of the twin little boys from the old TV show, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies."
Through the dark blueness, upon closer examination, he was right.

There were too many people standing in front of the TV so Jeff and I were stuck chit-chatting by ourselves, looking at the fish or watching the kid from TV convulse.
When Len returned, he said, "Let's go."

In the car, he bragged about his "cut" and explained the nature of his business. He then fanned-out a fist full of money and said, "I'm taking us out to eat."

Considering we took him for Japanese food for lunch, we expected something substantial.

Jeff and I were LA illiterate and had no way of knowing we were being taken to the "hood." But that was where Fat Burger was. Surrounded by luxury sports cars, we parked and stood on line at an outside window with the "beautiful people." I remembering thinking Len was so cool because he seemed to know everyone. But after we got our food...he had us run back to the car. Despite eating in the car...I remember it being an especially good burger.

My return visit to Fat Burger at the Borgata Casino will coincide with my attendance at their employee talent show. Somehow I don't think I'll be relating how great the show was...and hopefully, I won't be blogging it either because it was awful. Nevertheless, I'll let you know if there's a vegetarian menu and if FAT BURGER employees really scream, "FAT TIP!" each time someone gives them a gratuity.

1 comment:

Sol said...

Steve; Since you're orignially from New York, have you ever eaten kosher burgers in this fine dining establishment?