“I don’t understand why hamburgers are called junk food”

Francisco Javier Álvarez Sánchez, behind the bar at his institution. / L. MANSO

Francisco Javier Álvarez runs the company that his father-in-law opened forty years ago and prides himself on having maintained the essence and the style

In September 1982, José Luis Álvarez García opened Chopper Burguer on Calle Muelle de Oriente, next to Jardines de la Reina, a hamburger restaurant that has just turned forty years old. At that time, no one bet on this institution. There was no sidewalk to walk on and cars “came right up to the door.” Five years later, his son-in-law, Francisco Javier Álvarez Sánchez, took over the business and has kept it going with little change. The same bar, tiles and floor from the first day and only a few new details, such as display cases with bottles, but above all the same style of burger, give life to a place that is rising in the neighborhood, despite the difficulties of the moment.

Francisco boasts of having a clientele that spans three generations and having treated them from the time they were kids until now, they are already parents. Therefore, he is not familiar with serving American food, but speaks of it as a “neighborhood citizen”.

He also takes pride in every product he puts on his plate. He does not understand why the hamburger is called “junk food” when in fact “there are many other things that fall under this label”. He assumes that there was a time when there was not much praise for the dish, but “the chef had the idea to take out gourmet style and now they are increasing again.” However, his fame precedes him, and although “these things benefit me a lot, I get by word of mouth quite well,” he says confidently. Because of his love of travel, the logo of the hamburger restaurant has traveled to more than forty countries, some in his hands and others by the customers themselves, to whom he gives an Asturian flag with the inscribed symbol so that they can photograph it wherever they go. . . .

He is happy with the customer base, which “I can only say wonders, really.” He has no complaints because they are “very understanding and patient when it comes to playing. When there is a lot of commotion, they never pose any problem,” he applauds.

He doesn’t know how many people have passed through his bar this summer, but he estimates the number at two thousand. For the first time in 35 years, Eldnóttin publicly apologized on social media, “because at five past eleven at night I could not serve anyone more than the amount of orders we had in the kitchen, it was impressive and impossible to fulfill all requests, ” he assures.

only two types

He seems to believe in the keys to his success, because he categorically answers that it is necessary to “always get the same burger, don’t change”. That means he only sells two types of it, the simplest, with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and onions, without salt or sauce. “The secret is also to do everything in the moment, there’s nothing overheated or already cooked,” he says. And it doesn’t need any frills either. “I’ve tried everything, alligator, crocodile or any burger and they all have a lot of sauce and it covers what you’re eating. He admits that at the moment “advertising rules”, especially “in the big chains”, but what the customers say works for him, “who are the ones they trust in their hands.”

The burger restaurant has afternoon hours, starting at seven, but since he says he’s “very punctual”, he spends the morning cleaning the filters, the hood, the oil, everything needed to make it “just right” for the customer, because from he gets the best comments and official ratings that make him lower the blind as happy as he raises it, as he hopes to stop when he plays.

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