Cafe Society

The Original Hamburger Stand is the place to go for food-pocalypse

With fast-food burger giants like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Carl's Jr. hogging so much attention, chains like the Original Hamburger Stand are often shrugged off or ignored altogether -- even when paired with Tastee-Freez. I was definitely guilty of driving by -- until I saw a banner outside the location at 3100 South Broadway in Englewood (one of five in Denver) advertising something called a "Junkyard Burger." The giant photo on that banner showed a hamburger oozing chili, cheese, onions and what I thought might be french fries, and that got my full attention. And the Original Hamburger Stand kept it until I realized that eating there more than once might actually kill me.

See also: - Top five chain-restaurant burgers -- completely naked - A south Denver neighborhood takes a stand against a Hamburger Stand - Five fast-food restaurants that should consider delivery service

The Original Hamburger Stand started as an offshoot of Wienerschnitzel, the hot dog chain founded by John Galardi in Los Angeles in 1961. When that became a success, Galardi brought the Original Hamburger Stand -- a stripped-down, no-frills, fast-food hamburger joint -- to states in the Southwest in the early '80s, and began to replace underperforming Wienerschnitzel stores (in those signature A-frame buildings) with the new burger concept.

This concept did well in the generic 1980s, with black-and-white buildings, uniforms and even food wrappers, but customers lost interest in the '90s. That's when the Galardi Group -- parent company of Wienerschnitzel, Tastee-Freez and the Original Hamburger Stand -- embarked on rebranding efforts for the burger joint, including a new logo and actual colors. The company figured out that TOHS's customer base was 18-to-34-year-old males, and marketed directly to them with big, colorful outdoor banners on the stores featuring menu specials -- like the new Junkyard burger.

I'm not exactly the target demographic, but it definitely worked for me: I parked and walked in. Most of the business is clearly drive-thru, since the inside dining room is tiny, but there's also a larger patio area off to the side that was half-filled with moms, dads and some happy, loud, ketchup-smeared kids.

The menu seems almost state-fair-ish -- or at the very least carnival-like -- with all the greasy, sugary, salty, don't-eat-this-every-day-or-you-will-die faves like burgers, fries, milkshakes, corn dogs, jalapeno poppers, chili dogs, sodas and banana splits. This is not a place to go for any kind of health food whatsoever; the most nutritious thing you could eat here is a tomato slice on a burger or a bite of pickle relish on a hot dog. But when in hell, you should get a good suntan, so I ordered a gut-buffet of a green chile burger with fries, a jalapeno cheese corn dog, a chocolate shake, strawberry lemonade and the Junkyard burger.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz

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