Old-School Fast-Food: Beef Burger

The Guildfordian
Guilford College
Section: Features
Published: September 28, 2007
By: Ian Michie

Beef Burger 1040 W. Lee Street Greensboro NC, 27403 727-7505

I had to do it. It had been so long since my last visit to Beef Burger on Lee Street that it took a couple of weeks to convince my stomach to join me. My digestive-system has a kind of knee-jerk response every time I think of the place. But something about this landmark, now going on 50-years-old, compelled me to return.

Past the tattoo parlors and the used-car-lots sits a triangular-roofed structure reminiscent of a 1950s drive-in. At lunchtime the parking-lot is full, lined with every type of vehicle from late-model SUVs to old pick-up trucks. The clientele represents all walks of life, presumably because everyone needs a little broiled beef from time to time.

Beef Burger evolved from a franchise originally called Biff Burger. Reportedly, it is the last restaurant in the franchise standing. Some people claim it as the finest restaurant in Greensboro, and in many ways this is understandable due to its long tradition as a Greensboro eatery.

The interior of Beef Burger is one of its allures. Signs and newspaper articles adorn the glass partition separating the customers from the broilers. One reads "45 years and still broilin'." Another asserts "God allows U turns." In a panel by the pick-up window is a photograph of a crazed wrestler captioned "Boogie Woogie Man." I always hope for an Elvis sighting, but so far Elvis has yet to enter the building.

Customers line up and give their orders to a man with Beef Burger proudly embroidered on his lapel. His friendly southern demeanor adds to the novelty of having your change returned down a shoot from an old-fashioned cash-register. A brief wait to pick up your food affords time to take in the literature plastered to the wall. Then it's off to enjoy the delights of char-broiled goodness.

Okay, so the burgers aren't spectacular, but the original cooking method, using a contraption known as the whirl-a-burger, is still cranking out burgers swathed in Beef Burger's famous special sauce. You may get something comparable at Wendy's down the street - but why?

This isn't the place for vegetarians either. The only vegetarian food I saw on the menu was a dubious sounding item called "broccoli and cheese nugget." The menu is lengthy, however, and includes pork-chops and steak. I wasn't in that adventurous a mood, but I did want to test my mettle on something called the Big Carolina Burger.

There is a North Carolina maxim which says, "Thou shalt put chili and coleslaw on everything." Along with yellow mustard, this is what comes on the Big Carolina Burger. It did the trick; afterwards I wasn't hungry, but for the rest of the afternoon my stomach did little summersaults. But good summersaults. At least… I think they were good.

These burgers are for wolfing down, and it is best not to think too hard about how they are made. Just remember, it's ground beef, it's government inspected, and it's cooked. Once every twenty years, this is good enough for me.

Copyright © 2007  The Guilfordian.  All rights reserved.


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