AKRON, Ohio (Aug. 9, 2016) – Celebrating hamburgers by serving up 50 different kinds is a lot of fun. Celebrating hamburgers by serving up 50 different kinds from independently owned eateries? Well, that’s even more fun.
Just ask Drew Cerza, founder and organizer of the National Hamburger Festival, which returns to Akron’s Lock 3 for its eleventh year on Aug. 13–14.
“In 2016, we’re building on a unique, millennial-driven effort to showcase hamburger vendors who aren’t serving their food from behind the guise of a national chain,” Cerza said. “This year is about the small businesses who are truly making Northeast Ohio the burger capital of the world.”
The 11th Annual National Hamburger Festival, presented by the City of Akron, will feature more than 50 different kinds of hamburgers served by 20 independent restaurants, eateries and food trucks.
On top of all that, Sunday’s portion of the festival will debut the all-new Buckeye Brewfest, an event that will bring festivalgoers dozens of craft beers from more than 10 Ohio-based breweries.
2016 Hamburger Vendors
- The Bacon Barn
- Billy’s Vegetarian Hut
- Blue Rock Café
- Coaches Burger Bar
- Dante’s Game Day Grille
- Dave’s Dinners
- George’s Lounge
- Hatfield’s Good Grub
- Legends Sports Pub
- The Main Street Saloon
- Martini Brother’s
- Menches Brothers
- Sammie’s Bar and Grill
- Smoke the Burger Joint
- The Square Scullery
- Southern Thangs Food Truck
- The Stray Dog Cart
- S.W.A.T. Food Truck Uptown Grille
2016 Buckeye Brewfest’s Ohio-Based Breweries
- Thirsty Dog Brewing Company (Akron)
- Ohio Brewing Company (Akron)
- Buckeye Brewing Company (Cleveland)
- Market Garden Brewery (Cleveland)
- Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland)
- Spider Monkey Brewing Company (Westlake)
- Griffin Cider Works (Westlake)
- Lagerheads Brewing (Medina)
- Columbus Brewing Co. (Columbus)
- Christian Moerlein (Cincinnati)
- Mt. Carmel Brewing Co. (Cincinnati)
About Some of the Hamburger Vendors
If there were ever a word to describe Akron area residents Rob Morrison and his wife, it’s “perseverance.” After two failed restaurants and losing everything but their house, most people would call it quits. But not the Morrisons.
The grade school sweethearts embarked on an adventure that led them to the Blue Rock Café in Hudson where their burgers-meets-live-music business is booming.
As Rob says: “We have no quit in us.”
When it comes to little guys making a big name for themselves, Dave’s Dinner has made an art of it. The family-owned business started making their famous soul food delicacies at home in West Akron, but today have their own restaurant on Copley Road in Akron. Better still, they’re known for their stuffed burgers.
Legend’s Sports Pub & Grille has been just that – a legend – in Uniontown for the last 14 years. But it wasn’t until its current owner Don Boyer, who was manager at the sports bar at the time, bought the place back in 2010.
That’s when things started to really take off.
Way back then, Legends was known as a wing joint and a decent place to catch a game. But, saw the potential in making substantial upgrades to the menu. Most notably, he decided to make the menu’s focus to burgers.
The move toward burgers, along with some significant renovations and overall improved food quality, paid off.
“Since I bought it, our sales have doubled,” Don said. “Everyone associates a sports bar with frozen or prepared food. But everything we do here is fresh.
Everyone knows the story of how Charles and Frank Menches created the hamburger. But not many know the story of how the restaurants became a reality.
After the passing of his mother in 1989, John Menches and his siblings were going through some of her trinkets and keepsakes that she’d kept over the years. As it turned out, she had several items from her grandmother who also had some things saved from her mother-in-law, the wife of Charles Menches.
One important item: A recipe for the original “hamburg.”
“We thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’ Inside the recipe was the coffee and brown sugar,” said John. “So we tested it out. And, truly it was a remarkable sandwich.”
The family used the recipe on the local fair circuit from 1992-1993. And, in 1994, they made the decision to open a brick and mortar location.
Today, the Menches family operates two Akron-area burger restaurants – one in Green and the other in Massillon – and has done so for the past 21 years. And, they still use the original recipe.
When Tallmadge resident David DeLapa and his wife thought about retirement, they knew they needed a plan. The couple had been working in restaurants for years, so they knew their future was in food service.
Little did they know, however, that they’d end up using their life savings to open a restaurant from scratch. Thankfully, Sammie’s Bar & Grilled (named after their daughter) was the ticket.
“People pushing 60 years old don’t open up restaurants,” David laughs. “But we took a leap of faith.”
If you think that Brian Bailey, owner of Smoke The Burger Joint, ever thought he’d find himself at the National Hamburger Festival – think again.
Bailey is the co-owner of a popular restaurant concept in Ohio and Michigan called Old Carolina Barbeque Company. The specialty? NOT burgers.
As it turned out, Old Carolina was not just a great restaurant, but a popular barbeque caterer throughout Northeast Ohio. And, as Bailey explains, they were occasionally met with clients who wanted catered events with hamburgers.
“When a 450-person catering event came to us wanting hamburgers, we had to review our equipment,” Bailey said. “So, since we had a smoker, we decided to try smoking our burgers. And, they were amazing!”
Dan Molnar spent a good amount of his career working construction in the Akron area. The gig eventually led to a position as the catering director for a local restaurant. But, after driving past a huge, for-sale mobile command center truck, he came up with a cool idea. A massive food truck. The rest is history.
View an online news release about the festival here.
View an online fact sheet about the festival here.
ABOUT BUCKEYE BREWFEST: The Inaugural Buckeye Brewfest takes place during the National Hamburger Festival held at Lock 3 Park in Akron, Ohio on Sunday, Aug. 14. Included in the price of admission to the hamburger festival, Buckeye Brewfest offers sampling opportunities and events featuring dozens of beers from more than 10 Ohio-based brewers. To learn more, visit www.facebook.com/BuckeyeBrewFest.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL HAMBURGER FESTIVAL: Featuring more than 20 eateries serving up 50 different styles of burgers, the National Hamburger Festival takes place at Lock 3 Park in Akron, Ohio Aug. 13-14. The event also features activities and live entertainment. To learn more about the National Hamburger Festival, visit www.hamburgerfestival.com. Or, follow along at @HamburgerFest and www.facebook.com/NationalHamburgerFestival.
The Hamburger’s Hometown: Legend has it that it was two brothers from Akron, Ohio who created the hamburger back in 1885. On the final day of the New York State Fair in Hamburg, NY, Akron natives Frank and Charles Menches ran out of pork for the sandwiches they were vending from their concession booth. Thankfully, the pair found some ground beef, as well as a myriad of other ingredients, to create one of America’s most iconic foods – the hamburger.