Excuse Me, You Want What On Your Burger?

Raw Power                                   VS.                                                               Pure Genius

The male species is one strange animal, and I can say that because I’m part of the tribe. Competition seems to be bred into us from birth but reaches extreme levels in our early twenties. Where am I getting this unofficial data? From eye witness experience this past weekend at BnD’z.

As anyone who follows this blog knows, we offer all of our customers the ability to Create Your Own Masterpiece. Whether it’s a hot dog or burger, everyone who comes into the restaurant has the opportunity to not only select what toppings they want, but also what type of meat, bun, how it’s cooked, etc. When college-aged men come in, it always seems to turn into some type of primal ritual to see who is the Alpha Male.  In this instance, it was a classic brain versus brawn scenario.

With local universities back in session, we definitely saw a spike in business, but one particular group of three that came in on Saturday night seemed to have an agenda. Who was going to order the most….let’s say “unique” burger and proceed to eat it regardless of how, uh…mismatched the toppings, bun and type of meat were.

These students, Steve, Joey and Dylan, approached the counter and announced their intentions prior to ordering.

Joey: So just to review, we can each have anything on our burgers we want, right?

Dylan: Or hot dog.

Steve: There is no way you two can order something crazier than me! I studied the menu before we came, I have it all planned out!

Me: Uh, yeah, absolutely, we can put anything on the menu on your burger or hot dog. Just fill out the checklist here and we will get your Masterpieces ready.

Steve and Joey began to playfully trash talk each other as they completed their forms. I offered a pencil and form to Dylan, who seemed quite reserved. Me: Here you go.

Dylan: That’s ok, sir.

Me: Please, call me Doug. You’re not involved in this craziness?

He glanced over at his friends, returned his focus to me and nodded with a sly smile. Something was up, and I have to admit I was curious to see how this was going to play out.

Here is what each of the students ordered:

Joey

An 8oz Shredded Chicken Burger, medium well on a pretzel bun. Toppings included: wasabi horseradish cheese, garlic, neon green relish, jalapeno peppers and a fried egg for good measure.

Joey seemed pretty happy with his order as he turned to Steve and the silent Dylan, flashing a confident smile.

Steve

An 8oz Veggie Burger (“Coach says I have to cut back on red meat!”), medium rare on a gluten-free bun. Toppings included: celery salt, garlic, Lawry’s Season Salt, diced onions, pickles, grilled onions, green peppers, cole slaw, mac ‘n cheese, sauerkraut and plain old mustard.

At this point a crowd gathered around the register, everyone interested in what was transpiring. How was Dylan going to top these orders?

Dylan

Regular hot dog, medium well…..on a white bun…..no toppings.

The groan from the customers, Joey and Steve echoed through the dining room. I smiled at Dylan. I could tell he was smart, and it had nothing to do with the CMU logo on his t-shirt.

The food was prepared and presented to the three friends, who were now surrounded by curious onlookers. Joey and Steve dug in with valor, as Dylan just sat, staring at his plain hot dog.

I have to give them credit. Steve got three rather large bites of his Frankenstein creation down when he announced he couldn’t go on. “I love everything on it, man, but not together! I’m out!”

Joey, eyes watering, most likely from the combination of wasabi horseradish and jalapeno peppers, forced himself to take a fourth bite. With his mouth full he proclaimed “I win! You culdnt enan et halv….”

As his unintelligible victory speech proceeded, Dylan nonchalantly grabbed a fork and scraped all of the toppings from both of his friends burgers, proceeding to clump the mess onto his hot dog. A murmur began among the spectators. Steve reached up and placed his hand over Joey’s still moving mouth, pointing with his other hand at their quiet friend.

Dylan began to eat this now mess of a hot dog….in three bites. The crowd cheered as Joey sat down, defeated. Steve stood and bowed to his friend, the newly-crowned Alpha Male in this bizarre competition.

Dylan smiled to the crowd, then locked eyes with me. “Doug, I could really use a drink of water.”

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Little League Life Lessons

Honestly, this is my favorite time of the year. Why? Is it because summer is right around the corner? Sort of. Is it because I’m looking forward to all of our guests deciding it’s too hot to cook and they will come in to enjoy the best burgers and hot dogs Pittsburgh has to offer? Well, absolutely! But there’s yet another reason that always gets me pumped up in April leading into May. BASEBALL IS BACK!

Wait, I know what you’re thinking: “Come on, Doug, The Pirates always get our hopes up only to let us down after the All-Star Break.” Sadly, that’s true, but the tide has to turn sometime, right? But when I mention baseball, I’m not talking about our Bucs, I’m talking about Little League.

Is there any other activity that is as pure and uplifting as watching these little guys and girls playing in their first organized sport? I remember when I was their age, shagging fly balls with my glove that was three sizes to big for my six year old hand. Stepping into the box with your parents, siblings and friends watching to see if you could even swing that oh so heavy aluminum bat. I’m from the generation that had live balls being pitched, we didn’t have the cushion of hitting off a tee!

For a good majority of kids, this is their first experience at playing on a team, learning valuable lessons to build on as they grow into adults, realizing that others will be relying on them to achieve desired results. Not to mention playing by the rules, being a good sport to your opponents and most importantly how to have fun!

Now I’m quite aware that not all kids play baseball, some prefer soccer, basketball, gymnastics, dancing, cheer leading, and the list goes on and on. Some children have no interest in sports period, which is great, too. Everyone is different, discovering as the years peel away where their interests rest. But for me, it always brings a smile to my face when I see that young player stepping up to the plate for the first time, wide eyed, nervous, barely able to hold the bat properly. All too often, they will hack at the little white globe resting on the tee, or take swings at lobbed pitches, not even close to connecting.

It may be the next game, or even the next season, but the day will come when they make contact with that elusive red stitched ball. They may even just get a piece of it with a foul tip to the back stop, but that instantly identifiable clink of hide on metal always produces a genuine smile. That grin results from success, something we can all relate to. You can’t get a hit if you don’t step into the batters box. That’s why baseball is enlightening, simple and pure. There’s so much these little players will learn from the sport without even realizing it. In that regard, Baseball is a lot like life, don’t you think?

Every day when I open the doors of BnD’z for our guests, I think about how fortunate I am to do something that I sincerely love. If I wouldn’t have entered the batter’s box years ago, working and struggling to get hits, learning from my experiences, I wouldn’t have been able to hit this home run.

A sincere thank you goes out to all our guests, and for any of you local ballplayers that stop by in uniform, tell mom and dad we will give the entire family a special discount off their total bill, no matter if you went 4 for 4 or struck out each time. It’s just our way to show our appreciation and to remind you not to give up. Just like life, keep trying….you’ll get there!

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