AmRest, which owns and operates over a hundred Applebee's in eight states, had challenged its Colorado stores to create the perfect "Colorado Burger" -- ideally, one that incorporated "Stinkin" Good Green Chile, created by Bronco Mark Schlereth, spokesman for this campaign. He met up with four other judges at the Glendale Applebee's this past weekend to test the five finalists. And the winner?
The "Chimichanga Burger," created by the Applebee's restaurant team in Grand Junction, which piles Jack-cheddar cheese and roasted veggies on a standard Applebee's burger patty (fresh, never frozen), wraps all that in a tortilla that's crisp-fried, and then tops it with "Stinkin" Good Green Chile, sour cream and pico de gallo."
"All five contenders were winners," Schlereth says, "but the 'Chimichanga Burger' is definitely the best burger for the job." Now renamed the "Colorado Burger," it will be available at Applebee's restaurants across the state this fall.
Colorado is the first state to have its own official Applebee's burger, but the concept could be rolled out to other areas. In fact, this Applebee's on South Colorado has been used as the testing ground for many chain innovations, including a revamp of both design and decor that AmRest has been introducing at its other restaurants. "The 'Colorado Burger' is Applebee's first state burger, and it's unique in that Coloradans created it with other Coloradans' tastes in mind," says Mike Muldoon, brand president for AmRest Applebee's.
The other four finalists:
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The Mountain Stack, created in Arvada: "Monstrous burger" topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, habanero cheese, crispy onion strings, lettuce and tomato, and drizzled with blue cheese dressing and wing sauce.
Big Hog, created in Fort Collins: a sweet and spicy burger piled high with spicy Asian pork, habanero cheese, "Stinkin" Good Green Chile and drizzled with sour cream, topped with lettuce, tomato and onion.
Fajita Burger, created in Fountain: a fajita-inspired burger with green and red peppers, habanero cheese and chipotle mayo topped off with tortilla strips and a scoop of some "Stinkin" Good Green Chile.
Chipotle Burger, created in Grand Junction: habanero cheese, "Stinkin" Good Green Chile, black bean salsa and chipotle mayo on a burger.