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Burgers & Beer accepts best in town challenge, will reopen in Calexico

March 21, 2002

outlet

By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Jamie Honold threw down the gauntlet.

In a month or so, the Kurt Honold family, specifically Jaime's brother Marco Antonio Honold and his wife, Katia Verdugo, will reopen a Burgers & Beer location in Calexico.

When the doors open the first time at the under-renovation 337 Paulin Ave. location, El Centro Burgers & Beer Manager Jaime Honold says the new location will offer the "best burgers in town."

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Them's fighting words.

Since B&B closed in 1996 the crown of "best burger in Calexico" has been fought over by McDonald's, Burger King, Rosa's Plane Food, Jack-in-the-Box, Bulldog Sports Bar & Grill and Foster's Old-Fashioned Freeze, among others. With the Honold's coming back to town, flush with success at locations in El Centro and Yuma, the battle can be rejoined.

Bulldog's is ready to match fare with any in town.

Owner Armando Rioseco ("I'm supposed to be the owner but my wife is really the owner") was asked about his "Big Bulldog" burger.

"Well, it's supposed to be good. Come and have it. You can have two pitchers of beer; then you'll say that the hamburger was good … or some tequila. It's good," he vowed.

As for the soon-to-be competition, Rioseco said, "Well, I had some Burgers & Beer a long time ago when they were in Calexico but they were too expensive."

He said the quarter-pound "Big Bulldog" burger is a great value.

"It's a quarter-pound of meat bought right here, not at Costco. It's real good," he said.

Rioseco is not worried about the competition.

"No, I'm not. I wish more would come over, too," he said.

Down at Rosa's Plane Food, owner Rosa Maria Sanchez said her burgers will be the best — even after Burgers & Beer comes to town.

To eat a burger at Rosa's, diners fly in from all over the country, she said. A lot of diners.

"I sell a lot of burgers," she noted.

Rosa is renowned for grilling a 5-inch wide, 1/3-pound patty and slapping it down on a big two-hand-sized bun.

Extras? She's got the "good stuff." And she doesn't charge.

"I can put mushrooms if you like mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, whatever. Steak-cut fries? Yeah, whatever you want. How many do you want to order?" she asked.

Kathleen Finn, a manager of corporate communications for San Diego-based Jack-in-the-Box, jumped into the local burger war breach.

"I've never had a Burgers & Beer hamburger but one of the things that makes us stand out is we offer a lot of meat and cheese," she said.

Plus, Finn noted, "We have menu items such as the Sourdough Jack, Jack's Spicy Chicken. We also have several potato products. Can't beat the variety in our menu."

Contacted on his cell phone, the future manager of the Calexico Burgers & Beer, Marco Antonio Honold, said he is looking forward to joining the burger war again when he brings his family's business back to the border city.

Asked for the secret of his family's burger success, Honold said, "Have you tasted them? The secret is a good product.

"Whatever food you make, the secret is having the best ingredients. If you make frijoles … and you use the best ingredients, it's going to be the best," he said.

Then there is the variety at a Burgers & Beer.

"We have something like 20 different kind of burgers," he said, including the huge 1-pound "Tom Derosier Burger" (named for a legendary El Centro customer).

In addition to the different burgers, Honold said Burgers & Beer will be selling eight different kinds of draft beer.

"Nobody sells that many in Mexicali and Calexico," he said.

Commenting on his location in a building that once housed a dance club called, Flamingos, Honold said, "It's within walking distance of the banks and downtown."

The old Imperial Avenue location, where Taco Mex stands now, was problematic because of traffic heading to Mexico and a tiny parking lot.

Jaime Honold said, "Parking was terrible. There was no parking."

The new location will have plenty of parking and Marco Antonio Honold is working on the interior decorations.

"The decorations are going to be awesome," he said.

The motif will be the same as in the other B&B locations — sports memorabilia and televisions. Speaking of the other locations, the Honolds say the Yuma and El Centro restaurants are doing well.

Asked why the family is moving back into the Calexico market, Jaime Honold said, "Calexico is growing again and not hurt by the peso."

The Honolds opened the first Burgers & Beer at an old Imperial Avenue location in 1986 where the Spanish Kitchen stands now. After growing out of that location, they moved to the space where Taco Mex resides. In the mid-1990s, when the peso was weak, the Calexico Burgers & Beer was closed.

Asked if he is worried about the competition on his return to Calexico, Marco Antonio Honold said, "You're always worried about the competition because that makes you better."

One business that everyone in Calexico has to compete with is the ghost of Owen's Burgers. In the '50s and '60s, there was no cooler place to hang out and grab a bite, daddio.

Calexico Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said it was "on Imperial Avenue where 7-Eleven is now."

The burgers?

"Hey man, best in the west. That was also the first cherry Coke I ever tasted. They were famous for the ‘Monster Burger' and they sold long, thin flautas, shredded taco meat. Those were good," Renison said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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