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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 20, 1978)
Wednesday, September 20, 1978
arts and entertainment
Burgers, buns battle for business in downtown Lincoln
By Peg Sheldrick
Who's got the best darn burger in the
whole wide world? That's a matter for
debate. In fact, it's getting hard to tell
who has the best darn burger in Lincoln
And as if the choice wasn't wide enough
already, three new purveyors of patties
have opened shop within a few blocks of
campus during the last three months. New
to the area are McDonald's, the Hamburger
Factory and Wendy's, all dedicated to the
proposition that all hamburgers are not
The managements of the new businesses
are facing the competition with optimism.
Jim Gage, manager of the newly opened
Wendy's on 14th street, won't even admit
there's any competition.
"We don't considerably bother them
and they don' bother us," he said.
Steve Ekeler of the Hamburger Factory
(a block away on Q Street) also claims he's
indifferent to the competition.
"The name of the game is quality," he
said, "and I'm not worried."
But Mike Sharpe, supervisor at the 14th
and 0 McDonald's, indicates that the
abundance of other stores does have an
"Any competition always concerns us,"
he says. "Generally what we find is it
makes us a little better ... we realize they
will take away the business."
Students comprise a large share of the
business of each of these eateries although
the bulk of the trade for each comes from
the business community. It might help to
have a few guidelines for selection.
Differences 'neath the bun
Given that ground beef is essentially
ground beef, it's hard to understand how
one store can claim their 100 percent pure
patty is better than anyone else's. The
difference lies in what goes around the
burger from the topping beneath the bun
to the trappings of the eatery itself. The
areas that distinguish one bun-and-run
from another are decore, sandwich
preparation, and prices.
Each of these restaurants has a different
atmosphere. McDonald's is the most flam
boyant, looking like a cross between a
frontier bordello and the interior of the
Walton's barn. It offers all manner of
seating at tables, along counters, and in
Wendy's opts for an old-fashioned look
in bright red and has only tables for four.
The Hamburger Factory is a remodeled
International House of Pancakes, so its
decor is somewhat limited by what went
before. The booths and tables are done in
sober browns, a switch from the bright
plastic normally associated with fast food
Of course, what really matters is the
hamburger itself. At Wendy's and the
Hamburger Factory, the smallest sandwich
is the quarter pound size. The products
from these two places are very similar in
The McDonald's Quarter-pounder comes
on a sesame seed bun and is topped with
pickles, onions, and other things not
found on the other two (which come on
a plain bun). The Big Mac probably is
closer in taste to the others because it,
too, has dressing, lettuce, and other similar
ingredients in its topping.
The recipes for the various combina
tions of condiments are secret and sacred
unto each store, but in general the quality
and flavor of each brand of sandwich are
A ground beef gourmet might be able
to tell the difference, but the average
customer probably couldn't tell one burger
with dressing, lettuce, et al from another.
Which is best? It all depends on the diner.
Each store boasts a strong emphasis on
quality. However, each has a different
strategy for winning the battle of the
burger. Wendy's chooses to emphasize
fast service. To this end, it limits its
menu to specific items and runs its line like
a drive-through for pedestrians.
The Hamburger Fctory is unique, in
offering pinball machines for its customers'
enjoyment. McDonald's emphasizes variety
in its menu as well as its decor.
If none of these criteria grab you,
then you must look to the price as the
Wendy's Single costs 89 cents. Cheese
and tomato are extra, at 10 cents each.
McDonald's Quarterpounder runs 85 cents
(with cheese for 10 cents more) and the
Big Mac comes cheese included for 90
The Hamburger Factory Lightweight is
the lightest in price, a scant 80 cents with
tomatoes included. So where you dine will
probably depend on whether you're
shopping with a discerning palate or a
Will all this competition prove healthy
for the burger business downtown? Debbie
Skinner, manager of Burger Chef (an
"established" firm at three years old),
thinks it's a mixed blessing.
"It gives people more of a variety if
there are more businesses that open," she
says. "The only thing is there might not be
enough downtown business to keep them
Her own store has seen a few slumps
with the opening of competitor's stores,
but regular customers returned once the
novelty wore off. None of the stores are
getting as much student trade as they
originally anticipated they would.
As Mike Sharpe of McDonald's puts it,
"Well fight 4em-weU do our best to limit
the amount of business they (the competi
tors) take from us. Any competition can
hurt you if you let 'em."
The avenues of downtown Lincoln are
lined with burger businesses just waiting
for you to put your mouth where their
money is. There are a million burgers in
the naked city, and these are just a few of
lie Battle of
Zealots, elitist rock critics part of new music scene
There was something oddly disturbing
about the way this woman friend of mine
eye's misted over as she embraced her
"He looks just like Ringo," she ex
plained, "but he's got Paul's personali
ty Something in the back of my head was
kicking around the loose brain cells, and
saying rather gruffly at that-"Neve i
tango with a zealot, kid . . ."
Of course I knew better than to attempt
to deal rationally with anyone clinging to a
stuffed poddle with Paul's personality, but,
I had time between classes.
It was a mistake.
This particular woman's affliction was
Beatlemania, one of the more common
manias when the subject is music. Every
body has their musical weakness. I, for
example am very fond of Slavic folk tunes
played on pear leaves. I have several stuffed
poodles around the apartment which
resemble Slavic pear leaves.
Rock critics masochists
It is precisely the wide variance in musi
cal tastes which has opened a whole new
area for those with strong masochistic
tendencies. If you are a glutton for punish-
ment, it is comforting to know you can
always be a rock critic.
Once upon a time there was a concept
known as "rock as art." This was the
largely mystical belief that rock V roll
had some sort of redeeming social qualities.
That concept gave rise to a new race of
gods called "critics,' who sat in musical
judment of all wrong and right And they
were pretty good.
People like Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone
magazine gave a new credibility to rock
through sensitive and perceptive reviews.
Half of the fun was respecting the critics
but disagreeing with them. After all,
musical taste was relative, wasn't it? And
those critics didn't really take themselves
seriously did they? Of course not.
In the last four issues of Rolling Stone,
they have printed no less than five explana
tiondefenses of reviews that have appeared
over the last few months.
It would seem that the old guard has
lost it's sense of humor.
Initia3y, I wasn't sure how to handle
this sudden wave of insecurity coming
from the established rock jress. Not only
were they taking themselves seriously, they
were getting defensive. They were taking
cheap shots at the people who were writing
letters to the editor.
What is developing is an "us and them"
situation. Us being the readerconsumer,
them being the newly -elected rock elite.
This has got to stop.
The rock elite has succeeded in giving a
certain needed credibility to the contem
porary music business. It was a slow, two
decade process. In the process it also has
lost touch with who it is and what rock is.
Writing a defense of a review is not
unprecedented, but dragging a defense out
over four issues of a national magazine is
I enjoy reading reviews. Especially Dave
Marsh's. I agree with him about fifty per
cent of the time. The other half of the time
I have fun getting mad at him.
Because I like him I feel obligated to
point out some things to him, like I would
to a friend, (which through his writing he
It is OK to be wrong, Dave. This incred
ible elitist pretentiousness of late is pretty
disgusting. You really don't have to be
right. If a review needed defense, maybe
you should have spent more time with it
initially, maybe given it more thought.
Now is too late.
You gave your opinion once. It was
good. That is enough.
For what it's worth I'd like you to meet
a friend of mine. She has a poodle who
looks like Ringo, and a personality like
Paul. You too would probably have a lot
to talk about.
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