by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
This is Sue, owner of Sue’s Best Burger in Blue Ridge, GA. She started the business 40-years ago, and at age 84, she works every day. I met Sue a month ago, the weekend my husband and I took a road trip to the North Georgia Mountains. As we were picking up our keys to the rented cabin, I spotted Sue’s Best Burgers across the street. This was the real deal – a hometown mom and pop kind of place I wanted to check out. And since we were hungry for lunch, the timing was perfect.
The menu on the wall was extensive – definitely not clean eating diet food. I placed our order with the nice elderly lady at the cash register. As I whipped out my credit card to pay, I was informed they only take cash and that there’s an ATM machine around the corner. Good for them, I thought. Who needs Visa and Amex taking a cut out of the restaurant’s profit? A 40-year business built upon hard work should be entitled to every penny it earns.
We waited for what seemed like forever to get our burgers. I tried not to be impatient, fully aware of the fact that I needed to slow down and acclimate to the pace of this small town in Georgia. Once I took a bite of the burger, I knew why the wait was long: It was delicious.
This is coming from someone who is for the most part not a meat eater. I’ve been skeeved out by meat since I was a child. Occasionally I’ll have a hamburger (like once a year) but only if I block out what I am eating and if the burger is covered with condiments to mask that meat taste. I think I am more attracted to the smell of cooking on a gas grill (carcinogens and all) – it screams “SUMMER.”
The bun was fresh and soft. The hamburger patty was thick and cooked perfectly. The onions, tomatoes, lettuce and pickle were not produced in a factory. I bet they were grown at a local farm with real sun and no chemicals. There was nothing greasy, bland, dry, or mass produced about this burger. Sue’s is definitely not a first date kind of place unless you’re ok with ketchup, mustard and mayo all over your face and hands.
The woman who told me they only take cash sat down next to us in the booth. She introduced herself as Sue. This is the real Sue! The founder! The matriarch of Sue’s Best Burger! We struck up the most animated, fun-loving, heart-warming conversation. It was as though I was instantly added to her roster of over 12 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren. I became a member of her family. We spoke about all sorts of things – running a business, losing our parents, how growing up for children is different than it was a long time ago, having a successful marriage, food, and much more. As we were getting ready to leave, Sue asked if she could give me a hug.
I was slightly embarrassed because I was sticky from the ketchup and the blazing hot weather, but Sue didn’t care. After all, she’s a great grandmother. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic hug. Sue smelled delicious – of fresh laundry, soap suited for ladies and a touch of hairspray – just like a grandmother should.
Last weekend we took my in-laws to Blue Ridge – burgers were on the agenda and Sue didn’t disappoint. She recognized me immediately and welcomed me back – like family. I respect someone who has owned a business for 40-years. Hard work is to be respected. I respect someone who shows up to work every day with joy. The Best Burgers are Sue’s calling – as is keeping customers happy. I respect someone who doesn’t cave to credit card fees. She earns every penny because she delivers quality goods every time. I respect the burgers cost more than what you’d pay at other places. Sue’s isn’t a franchise – she doesn’t compromise on her standards by serving her clients inferior mass produced, love-less products that for some are considered hamburgers, and for others who value a real burger are considered trash. I respect that she chooses high quality beef, not mystery meat. Her product speaks in volumes. I respect Sue for knowing each of her loyal clients by name. She cares about her people – even if I am a relatively new member of her family.
Sue’s place may not be for everyone. I’ve seen the Yelp reviews from the nay sayers – it takes too long, the burgers cost more, McDonalds is right around the corner. I decided the word “yelp” is a combination of the words yell and wimper – perfectly suited for those who vent on social media. These people are not going to be in Sue’s inner circle. They will cut corners because their currency is cheap and instant. Sue’s is about delivering high quality, building relationship, perfecting the art of the burger, taking her time to get it right, creating a unique establishment to be found no where else but in downtown Blue Ridge, GA – and being compensated directly by the customer for her labor of love, not by a third party insurance company…I mean credit card company.
I welcome everyone to Balance Atlanta Family Chiropractic. While we don’t serve burgers, we do offer a unique, family, loving environment serving up quality chiropractic adjustments, one awesome patient at a time for those of seek and value this type of relationship. And for those who become members of the Balance Atlanta family, I promise to roll out the red carpet for you, just as Sue does for her clients…and going strong for decades to come.