A 'best burger in America' award brings nothing but trouble for this Portland restaurant

Tuesday , February 13, 2018 - 2:00 PM

Gene Marks

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

You would think that earning an award for the country’s best burger would be a great thing, right? Maybe not so much.

Last year and after a nationwide search, the popular men’s lifestyle site Thrillist bestowed the award on Stanich’s, in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1949, the legendary diner has catered to the likes of Michael Jordan, Dan Rather, members of the Trailblazers basketball team and other famous and not-so-famous burger lovers. The eatery has received other awards before, but unfortunately, this particularly prize - while very much appreciated - created so many problems that the decision was made to temporarily close.

“It was not only bittersweet, it’s a curse,” the restaurant’s second generation owner, Steve Stanich said in this Oregon Live report.

Since winning the award, the restaurant has been inundated with new customers - so much so that lines are long and the staff is overwhelmed. Recent online reviews are reflecting its customers’ frustrations and Stanich - no lover of the Internet - has been forced to field advice on how to run his restaurant and eve - gasp - how to cook a burger from some of the haters online. But worst of all? The restaurant was unable to serve country music star Tim McGraw when he stopped in for a bite due to the long lines.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Stanich warned. “Because it almost crushed our business.”

Although the decision to temporarily close was his, it was likely motivated by a recent city inspection that gave the place a clean bill of health, but recommended a “thorough, deep cleaning.” Stanich got the message.

“We’re making sure that everything’s spotless,” he told Oregon Live. The restaurant has done this before in January and, yes, it’s February and a phone call to the restaurant confirmed that they’re still not open.

Has the 69-year-old owner been tempted to just chuck it all in and sell? A little bit. But it seems likely that he’s going to stick around for a while.

“We’ve been offered a lot of money to tear this down,” he said. “But I’m not motivated by money. My parents taught me that the more you give, the more you receive.” Here’s hoping there are more burgers to give soon.

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