Oddly, I have found that no two hamburgers are the same. A McDonald's burger does not taste like a Burger King burger, nor does a burger from Denny's taste like a burger from the corner pub. All burgers are unique which is why I love exploring burger joints and prefer a classic burger joint to fast food.
Oh my, I've eaten many, many good burgers in my time. The ones that stand out include the patty melt at Peter's, a defunct diner that formerly stood in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Another great one was at the now-defunct Hog Head McDunna's on Fullerton and Ashland in Chicago. I also used to like to go to the West Loop Club (WLC) on South State Street in Chicago for their killer burgers. I tried Googling WLC and came up empty, so I am not sure if they are still open. My all-time favorite burger is the one at Hackney's, a family run chain in the Chicago area. Hackney's is still around, though they did close the one closest to my house in Wheeling, Illinois (WHY?!). I have been eating at Hackney's my entire life. Hackney’s began when Bebe Hackney first started serving hamburgers on her back porch in Glenview, Illinois, during Prohibition, according to Hackney's website. Her husband Jack, later opened up a saloon where her burgers were a huge hit then and today.
The Hackney burger is a thick cut of meat served on black rye bread, with raw onions and lettuce. There are cheese options but I prefer my burger sans cheese. The Hackney burger also comes with delicious creamy coleslaw. Two other essentials to accompany the Hackney burger are (1) the onion loaf, which is a large square of breaded and fried onions that are absolutely amazing; and (2) a glass of Green River soda, originally made by the defunct Edelweiss Brewery in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood to keep the brewery afloat during Prohibition. I am not sure who makes Green River now, Edelweiss closed in the early 1970s.
As much as I love the Nite Owl, I would like to discuss a couple of issues I have with the place. First off, they close up shop in mid-November for the winter. So I have to go four months with no access to a Nite Owl burger. Pain! Heartbreak! Second problem, they run out of meat around 3 or 4 p.m. most days then shut the place down! Can't you guys procure a larger refrigerator and a larger supply of meat? So here is what happens. I'm gearing up for the Clarion card show, salivating at the thought of hitting the Nite Owl after the show, only to find them closed because they ran out of meat! The world is a cruel, cruel place.
This past Saturday was one of those days where we showed up at the Nite Owl and they had closed up around 3 p.m. Well, Scotty Z., not to be confused with Scotty P., has been bragging about another burger place called Solly's, located just north of Milwaukee in the town of Port Washington. I casually mentioned Solly's to my lunchmates Rob and Willie. Rob just happened to have a Solly's menu in his car. Willie took one look at that menu and said we have no choice but to go to Solly's. I plugged the address into my GPS and in 15 minutes we were at Solly's, which is housed in an old brick house. From the outside, I thought Solly's was going to be a big restaurant. I was surprised that it consists merely of an S-shaped counter, no other seating! We had a tough time finding three open stools at the counter.
Once seated, we each ordered three butter burgers from a sweetheart of a waitress. Rob and I went with fries while Willie went with onion rings and spicy dipping sauce. Willie and I are from Chicago where you can't buy a butter burger. Admittedly Willie and I had never eaten butter burgers before and we both were a little concerned. Our burgers literally had a slab of butter on them along with a hunk of chopped grilled onions. Initially, I did not think I would like eating a burger caked in butter but man it was good! I think next time I'm going to order the double butter burger, not double butter but double meat patties. The Solly's patties are kind of thin, you gotta have two of those suckers on there to absorb all that buttery goodness.
I was so taken by this butter burger that I was compelled to research the matter further. I found this great website www.luckypeach.com where it explains the history of the butter burger. According to Amrita Gupta of luckypeach, the hamburger, not the butter burger but the first actual hamburger, originated in 1885 at the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin. The creator of the hamburger was 15 year-old Charles Nagreen. I always assumed the hamburger was a German import but no, it was created in Seymour, Wisconsin.
By 1895, Wisconsin was one of the largest dairy producing states in the country so it seemed natural for someone in Wisconsin to slab some butter onto a burger when it was so plentiful. The first reported butter burgers were served in 1936. One establishment was located in Green Bay, operated by Harry and Caroline Kroll, which is apparently still there. The other butter burger was served at Solly’s! Kenneth “Solly” Salmon loved the taste of butter on a burger and shared his concoction with customers who have been cramming into his little diner ever since. Solly’s family still runs the place. They were interviewed for the luckypeach article and said that some places brush on some butter, others roll it on, but at Solly’s “we take a knife and put a good glop of butter on the burger.” Indeed they do! Solly’s goes through 125 to 150 pounds of butter per week!! Oh Wisconsin, I love you!
I will now pause this blog so my dear readers may race out to the nearest burger joint and grab some food. You must be hungry. I know I am. You may continue with the blog upon your return.
Back? Do you have a burger? Okay, good. Now back to the task at hand, my show report. I kind of limped into home on Saturday, August 22, 2015, at the Fat Daddy's Sport Baseball Card Show held at the Clarion Hotel in Milwaukee. This show marked the completion of my first year as a show promoter. I think I threw only two duds all year -- June and the August one this past Saturday. I was disappointed we did not get a better turn out. I aggressively promoted the show with postings all over the internet and I passed out hundreds of flyers. Obviously, I need to do more. I plan on really hustling for the September 19th Show.
In my first year, I learned that promoting a show is a challenge. It is difficult to get customers in the room and when they do come, to make sure they have a good time and want to come back to the show. It is also difficult to make sure all the dealers have good sales and a positive experience. While I did not break even once in terms of the money I received in table fee and the money I spent on promotion and the room, my card sales at the show have been tremendous overall. Except for the National, all my best shows during the past year have been at my Clarion show. So I must be doing something right.
I was very lucky to have Mark Smith's guidance when I started the first show last September. I have also been extremely lucky to have a solid dedicated core of dealers that show up just about every month in Nelson Rodriguez, Scott & Jim Ziegert, Mike Johnson, Bill Nest, Scott Prodzinski and Willie Shabas. You guys are the best! I am also very thankful to each and every dealer that set up during this past year. I hope you all come back as I embark on year number two.
I also can't express enough gratitude to all the great collectors that have visited my show this past year. I have an amazing core group of collectors that come out to see me at both Gonzaga and at my show like Mark, Jim, Jeff, Jason, Robin, Rob, Terry, Jack and many others. Thanks guys!!!
One of the biggest surprises from the Clarion show has been the large amount of quality vintage cards that have walked into the room this past year. I have made many tremendous buys on cards at the Clarion, including this past Saturday where I picked up a near set of 1960 Topps baseball along with large piles of 1958 through 1961 Topps football. I hope that customers continue to bring cards in to sell to me and all the other dealers. Other dealers have reported great buys as well throughout the year.
I would like spice things up for year two at the Clarion. I may bring out an autograph guest here and there. I would like to do some giveaways. I would like to lure in some new dealers that have never set up in Milwaukee before. From doing shows all over the Midwest, I know quite a few dealers from out of town, maybe I can get some of these guys to truck up to Milwaukee and show off their stuff. I am also open to any suggestions anyone may have to improve the show. This past Saturday aside, I think we're off to a good start and I can't wait for year two beginning on Saturday, September 19, 2015.
Next up on my schedule is the Fishers show in Indianapolis on Saturday, August 29, 2015; and the Chicagoland Sports Cards show in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, on Sunday, August 30th. I started work reloading 1979 Topps football. I also plan on loading up 1966 Topps baseball. I only have two tables at these shows and am trying to decide what to bring out. I am leaning towards just bringing out my display cases to each show. If anyone in Indy or Buffalo Grove would like to see any of my binders, please et me know and I will bring them along. Thanks again to everyone who has supported my show at the Clarion. I am looking forward to trucking to Indy on Saturday and Buffalo Grove on Sunday. See you this weekend! Don’t forget to come out to my show at the Clarion on September 19th. Now finish that burger!!