I’ve been eating Fuddruckers‘ World Greatest Hamburgers since the mid-1980s. Initially, the soon-to-be burgers’ carcasses were hanging in a refrigerated butcher area, complete with a window to watch the action. Yes, you could watch as the butcher ground the fresh beef then made patties out of them.
They ground the meat themselves and baked the buns daily went a long way in the flavor department. Plus, while you wait in line, it would entertain you.
Fuddruckers Table of Contents
Fuddruckers was the brainchild of Phil Romano. Shortly after moving to Texas, he envisioned a new type of burger joint that was all about fresh ingredients.
After a local bank turned down his loan application, Romano found ten investors who ponied up $15,000 each.
In 1980, the first Fuddruckers restaurant opened in San Antonio, Texas. A second location would follow the next year in Houston. By the summer of 1984, there were 23 locations.
Fuddruckers was a smashing success right out of the gate, but Romano needed to take the concept national due to copycats popping up everywhere. Once Fuddruckers went public in November 1983, they had the cash flow to expand.
By early 1985, Romano had sold half his stock. He then took a step back from the management side of the business. He had grown bored, and a few years later, his new concept would pay dividends after selling it a year after its launch. You may also be familiar with that chain, Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
What made Fuddruckers special?
- A full loaded condiments bar
- A butcher shop with burgers made daily
- A bakery where the burger buns, brownies, and cookies are always fresh
- Kitschy and faux brand signs and decorations
- An arcade room in some locations
- A full liquor bar in some locations
Do you remember?
- The round trays your food served on with the red Fuddruckers logo
- A mini-warehouse sized space of seating
- Being called over the loudspeaker by name when your food was ready
- Stacking so many toppings on your burger from the condiment bar that you couldn’t open your mouth wide enough to eat it
- Taking some cookies and brownies on your way out
Bonus Question with Answer
What about the name Fuddruckers, where did it come from?
a name chosen for its near-obscene pronunciationRichard Pachter, The Miami Herald 5-30-05
My Beef with Changing Things
Fuddruckers would continue to expand and open more restaurants in many locations across the U.S during the late 1980s and 1990s.
The early 2000s were not kind to the company as it fell on hard times. Due to the high cost of the real estate and most of the restaurants’ sheer size, they would file for bankruptcy protection in April 2010.
Just the year before, they had overhauled the beef for their burgers and renamed it Fudds Prime. I’m not sure if that contributed to their financial problems, but the new meat was not well received by their longtime fans, myself included.
My Fuddruckers Story
It was April 1984 by the time Fuddruckers had made its way to Miami, Florida. There were 37 locations nationwide and growing.
My family unit of six (my parents, my grandparents, my sister & I) looked forward to everything about the Fuddruckers’ experience. I also loved, Rudy’s which you can read about here.
I’ve known many people who never got the whole Fuddruckers thing and would prefer fast food over it, that I never understood. The taste of a Fuddruckers’ burger is unmistakable, and my family embraced that. And everything that made this restaurant chain unique.
Over the years they expanded their menu to include exotic meats like Ostrich. I appreciate the effort but I don’t think I’d ever order anything other than a burger because let’s be honest, that’s what drew me here in the first place.
If you’ve never been to a Fuddruckers, your options as far as size goes like this: 1/3 lb, 1/2 lb, 2/3 lb and 1 pound(there is extra waiting time just for this size and your entire order will be slowed down, just a heads up).
What to Eat at Fuddruckers?
I usually order the 1/2 Burger with the three kinds of cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss), aka the Three-Cheese Burger. It’s large enough, and I don’t have the patience to wait for the 1 pound burger all the time. Plus, an order of the addictive wedge fries, which I always drown in honey mustard.
As far as toppings go, I keep it simple and go with nothing other than the cheese. But, I did recently try their grilled onions with some mustard, and that showed some promise on joining the rotation.
The hot dogs are delicious, and that split-top bun it comes on is ridiculously good.
If you’re a condiment fanatic, then you’ll dig their famous self-serve toppings bar.
And if you’re a burger fanatic, well then you should have already eaten here.