Tony: Chef Burger is One of Many Reasons Buying Local Sucks

There’s a misguided perception going around that local merchants, retailers and restaurants are somehow intrinsically better than the national corporate fare.

It’s a nice thought that unfortunately has nothing to do with reality and is mostly a marketing scheme cooked up by local PR hacks who have screwed themselves silly carrying on adulterous affairs with media chicks with exotic accents but would otherwise only rate a solid 7. Maybe the ends justify the means but now that I’ve had the chance to go to a few local establishments, I wouldn’t give a local establishment any special consideration simply because they’re local.

In fact, as with most things strictly Kansas City, mediocrity is often tolerated simply because of a local connection. Certainly, this is the case with so many Kansas City restaurants.

For some strange reason I was awake during the day earlier this week and I decided to hit Chef Burger. I’ve heard so many d-bags rave about this place and describe it as a second coming because of its veggie burgers and the talent in the kitchen. Upon entering the place, I must admit I was impressed with the decor. The place had a retro post-modern look that made me long for the late 60’s when banging a random skank without a condom was still a viable option. But, just like nearly all causal hookups, I was immediately disappointed.

I was handed a menu that looked as if it had been used by a CSI unit to clean up after a murdered tranny found on the roadside. And my surly cashier/cook/busboy not only looked pissed but also as if he hadn’t changed his sanitary gloves since last week. Maybe this vibe is why Chef Burger has had trouble staying open in the P&L District. Or maybe local employees that don’t have to go through corporate training and screening just aren’t up to snuff.

Like most local places the cost was outrageous. $10 bucks for a turkey burger, waffle fries and a small drink. By contrast, working the dollar menu right at The Golden Arches I could have fed a family of six Dominicans for roughly the same price. Probably less. Even worse, the order came on a steel cafeteria tray that looked dirty.

Don’t get me wrong.

The turkey burger was good but ultimately not worth it. A smart consumer that could get past the silly hipster marketing talk and Crossroads-style snobbery would have found more value and nicer environment at Applebee’s, or with a brown bag lunch at the park. That’s not to say that other local places aren’t worth it. But giving a place a pass simply because they have some connection to the metro is a small town idea that needs to abandoned if Kansas City is ever going to be world class.

And is it just me or has anybody else noticed that most of the local hotspots almost never hire any minorities? Mind you, I’m biased, but it reminds me that corporate fair is often so much better than locals because it must compete on a national level and comply with national standards . . . Like diversity. And seriously, in a taste test most people would take KFC over some place like Stroud’s any day.

All of this reminds me of a somewhat recent Internet commercial that didn’t extol any of the virtues of local places but simply name dropped a bunch of places as if these businesses were supposed to mean something beyond a bunch of locals who mistakenly think they deserve a medal for trying to make a profit.

High prices, poor service and average fare serve as the hallmark of most activities on which Kansas Citians spend their money with only rare exception. A local place can offer an experience just as horrible as any chain, arguing otherwise only encourages yet another aspect of mediocrity that marks this town.

Tony Botello

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20 Responses to Tony: Chef Burger is One of Many Reasons Buying Local Sucks

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why does the woman in the video sound like she’s on dope?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tom Wynne
    Hey Tony

    Do you really think KFC is better than Stroud’s? Also, Stroud’s has quite a long history of minority hiring. I think it is unfair of you to make such a statement without checking your facts but such is the world of today’s agenda driven journalism.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If “I

  4. Anonymous says:

    Simple solution for you…
    Breakfast..Bob Evans
    Dinner..Golden Corral(All-U-Can-Eat)

    HC: That’s telling him, bschloz!

  5. Anonymous says:


    Charlie don’t surf and Tony don’t tip.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Applebees. Seriously. What a mook.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You are such a clueless ass, Tony. I am involved in the restaurant industry and there are plenty of minorities hired. Every city pushes it’s local businesses. Austin, TX has an entire campaign and website called ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and it’s about keeping out the boring national chains and keeping things local and cool. You throw around words like ‘hipster’ and that’s exactly what you are trying to be with you silly little blog. If you don’t like locally owned restaurants, don’t go. If you don’t like Kansas City, GO!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Kitty Krash
    Mostly I think Tony’s comments have no basis and are late night ramblings; however I agree with him that ChefBurger sucks. I stopped by a few months ago and the place was a wreck. Dirty dishes piled everywhere with chairs and tables in disarray. The worst part of the place was the the staff was surly and unattentive and the prices expensive. The food, I thought, was good, but not worth going back.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kitty, I agree about Chef Burger but if you want a good burger why wouldn’t you go to Westport Flea which is locally owned and the best. There are so many good locally owned restaurants including Room 39, Blue Koi, Blue Bird, Westside Local, Blue Stem….. just off the top of my head. This would be a sad, sad place if all we had to choose from were national chains. Applebees sucks!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Drugs Delaney
    WOW, you went to one local restaurant and now everything else sucks. Get the fuck out of KC!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Tony, great work here; I mean really, way to cut to the heart of the travesty that is

  12. Anonymous says:

    As usual the truth is somewhere in the middle. As a restaurant owner I agree that many, not all, “local” establishment tend to rely on our community to patronize them out of loyalty. I agree with Tony that a lot of these places do not have the quality, cleanliness, or professionalism of major chains. Instead they think their “charm” is enough. I, personally, dont need to know the life story of every server I come across. Just good food at a decent price in a clean friendly environment are good enough for me. Big chains and “locals” are both needed to create a great restaurant landscape. But ne honest with yourself as to why you choose where you eat. If you want to buy local because it supports the community, great, more power to you. But don’t tell me (or Tony) that it’s because they’re the best…because most aren’t.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is ChefBurger really “local?” After Rob Dalzell folded (previous owner) it was my understanding that a new group was put together to keep it running and Cordish was part of this new group… If that’s the case the corporate vs. local theme of your article is shot…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Chef Burger is locally owned. Cordish has nothing to do with the new group. The new group was part of Dalzells original investment group and has been involved since day one of Chef Burger…. They just gained full control when Dalzell disappeared.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “cooked up by local PR hacks who have screwed themselves silly carrying on adulterous affairs with PR chicks with Southern accents but would otherwise only rate a solid 7.”

    Surprised Hearne allowed such a thing.
    HC: Here’s a tip: if you think you want to stick up for somebody who’s identity has not been revealed, do them a favor. Don’t write your guess as to who their names are for all to see.

  16. Anonymous says:

    the birdman
    I knew that Tony was a pathetic excuse for a journalist/person, but I figured, given certain relationships, that Hearne wouldn’t allow such an article to be written.

    Hearne, this is in very poor taste and I am embarrased that I have ever shook your hand in friendship. Pathetic.
    HC: Hey there a lot of opinions on this site and the ones I author have my name on them. If you’re so disgusted with what somebody else wrote that you want to unshake my hand, why not unshake it by name? Pretty weak.

  17. Anonymous says:

    the birdman
    Matt Moriarity. Done.
    HC: Cool. We’ve met? Sorry, don’t recall.

  18. Anonymous says:

    the birdman
    Oh, and why was TigerVIP’s comment edited to remove the names of the obvious people?
    HC: Because TigerVip has a bird brain, birdman. Get it?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Next time do your research. Chefburger has never been a client. And she’s a solid 10 – 11 with the accent. H/T – I will be waiting for an apology from both. And hey- thanks, Matt.

  20. Anonymous says:

    So you allow the article to be posted. I simply state the first names of the accused and I’m the birdbrain? Hearne, name-calling is so pathetic. Why not call out your columnist instead of your readers? We are the ones that acutally questioned the article in the first place.

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