| Ten years ago when
Chubby's began franchising and expanding across the West Coast, there
was mild excitement about having East Coast style diners in this region
of the country. The Western States have thousands of fast
food restaurants and hundreds of Denny and IHOP type of inexpensive
family dining facilities but very few quality diners. Chubby's
promised to fill that void and planned to construct over one-hundred new
franchises within a two year period. But before their first phase
of building was complete, sales slumped and many owners closed their
doors and filed for bankruptcy. Chubby's management regrouped and
reorganized; they streamlined, adopted a new advertisement strategy,
fired and hired new management teams, but sales continued to falter, and
more restaurants went toe-up. What corporate management failed to
revamp was the quality of their food. They tried and failed to
compete in an already over-saturated, low budget, poor quality, fast
food market. Instead of replacing frozen, industrial manufactured
meal segments with fresh ground beef, real potatoes and off the farm
produce, the suits pulled out their MBA thesis's and tried to apply
Harvard logic to a purely kitchen to mouth problem.
Chubby's is primarily a 50's style diner serving inexpensive breakfasts, sandwiches, soups, salads and burgers. I met Dr. Meat at Chubby's as he was finishing breakfast, and we ordered the double cheeseburger with fries. The two frozen patties were thin, dry and fried but seasoned with a shake or two of salt and pepper. Atop these pucks were two gooey, melted slices of American cheese. The condiments were good quality whole leaf iceberg lettuce, white onion, pickle and tomatoes. Chubby's showed a touch of creativity by preparing their own mayo-mustard-relish sauce.
All of these average components were sandwiched between an outstanding homemade bun. This is a bread that grandma would be proud to serve guests. It was sliced in half upon ordering, lightly buttered and fried. It is sad that a bun of this quality can't be better complimented by a similar quality beef patty. The fries were picture perfect quality. I am sure that these spuds were selected in a corporate round-table meeting from a variety of slides presented by an advertisement agency. They looked perfect and adhered to MBA Business 207 criteria but tasted like salty hot steam. With catsup, they tasted like salty hot steam with a little catsup.
Harvard, Yale and Stanford needs to focus on banking, law, and business and leave the food to the chefs and cooks.
Intrigued by the breakfast offerings painted in the windows, I was at least a little enthusiastic about a trip to Chubby's. I thought that if a place can do breakfast right a great burger can't be too far behind. When entering the little diner the smell of fresh baked bread fills your sinuses, and the sights of a quasi-fifties motif replete in gray spatter vinyl on the booth seats and on the round counter stools, white black and yellow tile, and the Pepsi fountain assaults your eyes. At least they could not find the fifties station on their radio, my ears would suffer no damage.
The menu had fifties style names to their offerings like "the Betty Sue", or "The Big Bopper Deluxe", what is it with the fifties? Did everyone subside on burgers and that's it? I am really getting sick of the fifties theme in a burger place. It's over done. Anyway we ordered the "James Deanble with Marilyn Cheese" and a "Little Richard" of fries. We also got two "Richie Valens" of Pepsi, which, came as expertly mixed as a Pepsi product can, I really hate to say this, but Pepsi sucks.
The burger was well presented in a little 50's style basket with the fries in another. The food was hot and the bread smelled positively homemade! The fries were frozen jobs, that were cooked a little too crisp. They, again had that tater tot flavor that must be sought by the great unwashed, otherwise why would a business person waste their time and resources on such trash?
The burger was a sight to behold, the patties were covered in dripping melted cheese (we immediately thought they must use genuine American cheese and none of that cheese food stuff). The patties were dry, dense as liver, frozen, and musky. The bun was superb, I have had my hands on some great buns in my day, but these were something else. You can't beat fresh, firm, flaky, and fried in butter. The condiments were in the right amounts and very fresh, I really liked the sauce it was a mustard/mayo combo with a skoash of relish in it.
I think I will never understand why all this effort goes into the stuff on the burgers, but not the burger itself! We have sampled homemade breads, secret sauces, fresh hot house veggies, rare aged cheeses, and cooking strategies that are torn from Emeril's playbook, and after all that they stick a frozen Sam's Club patty on it with no seasoning! This is like putting on set of gold Dayton rims on a Hyundai. Remember the key word in Cheeseburger is "burger", not toppings.
Point Total 56
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