The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Heidi Zemach
For The LOG 

Red's extends burger season


Heidi Zemach | For The LOG

Red’s Burgers’ new owners Sara Kirby and James Minden will keep their stand open as long as possible, depending on the weather.

The new owners of Red’s Burgers stand, at the corner of Seward Highway and 302 Van Buren St., had a good first season this summer thanks to the sunny weather, changes in the menu and cooks, and their own community outreach. James Minden and Sara Kirby hope to keep their gourmet burger business open for as long as they can beyond the tourist season this fall.

That would be much appreciated by local residents, and by the local fire department as the Marine Fire Fighters Symposium is meeting here Oct. 8-12. Unfortunately, the timing is up to Mother Nature, Minden said. The water pipes of the temporary structure, are required to be above ground, so once the first real freeze comes along, the business has to shut down.

Minden has modified the burger recipes since purchasing the business from his mother, Linda Gilmore, and her partner, Larry, who was especially appreciated for his barbecue. Minden and Kirby’s goal was to make everything fresher, tastier and more contemporary. They don’t use frozen meat patties, and Minden created a new spice that he adds to the ground meat. His hand-pressed burgers are larger than before, and for a few more dollars customers can get order an organic (wild) meat burger of elk, bison, caribou or venison. They are also using a better quality of bacon – grilled Applewood-smoked bacon. After cooking they drizzle it with maple syrup and caramelize it, Minden said.

Red’s added a new veggie burger made from the pulp of apple and carrots with garbanzo beans. It’s sautéed, and served with red lettuce. The entrées are served in red and white checkered parchment paper, along with a basket of country fair style garlic and herb fries, curly fries or sweet potato fries.

Sunday afternoon, nostalgic ‘50s tunes filled the courtyard and indoor seating area, an old school bus retrofitted with tables and booths. The older customers, already seated, encouraged those peeking inside to come on in. They were obviously getting a kick out of being on a school bus again, and hearing familiar tunes from their past.

“I’ll have you know, your burgers are the best I’ve ever had,” a middle-aged gentleman visiting from the Lower 48 called out to the cooks as he headed off toward his car. “I’m going to put it on Facebook,” he promised.

People also are taking notice of Red’s shakes this season. They’re made with all milk and real fruit, Minden said.

“We’ve added a lot of new flavors to our shakes and people are loving it,” Kirby said. If you freeze the leftovers, it makes great ice-cream the next day, she tells one customer. “The peanut butter shake is dynamite,” agreed another.

Next year they will have to make some price adjustments in order to absorb the additional costs incurred with the new way of doing business.

“We bumped up the quality this year and ate the price,” Minden said. But that will only mean that the prices on certain menu items will increase, while others will decrease, not that everything will rise, he said.

The couple plans to also offer soups and a cold sandwich next year. Minden will design some T-shirts and hoodies to sell, and they’ll be updating their Facebook presence. The couple hopes to build a permanent structure on the site one day, which might enable Red’s Burgers to stay open year-round.


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