Back to burger basics


The recently opened Frat Burger on the corner of King Street and University Ave., embodies the local Waterloo culture from top to bottom.

Pictures of historical Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo frats on the wall, locally grown beef and potatoes used in their burgers and fries and the owners Glen Smith and Jerry Smith, epitomise pieces of Waterloo’s story.

“We love Waterloo,” Jerry Smith said. “We’ve both grown up here born and raised, never left Waterloo. We’re just showing support for our community, buy local, eat local.”

The partnership between Ethel’s Lounge owner Glen Smith, and former Mel’s Diner owner Jerry Smith has been described as a dream team.

Jerry explained the two partnered after, “Glen put my name on the sign board outside of Ethel’s with his number and he told me to call him, and I did. I had about 25 people call me and ask me ‘did you know your name’s on the board outside of Ethel’s?’”

As a result of the partnership, Frat Burger was born. “Frat Burger really is a smashed up version of Ethel’s and Mel’s, actually it’s more Ethel’s than Mel’s,” explained Jerry.

“Frat Burger is really just your run of the mill beer and wings pub, but substitute a really good burger and homemade fries for wings.”

That’s right, don’t expect to find any wings, ribs or beer-battered fish, because Frat Burger is strictly, burgers, milkshakes, beer and fries.

Jerry explained his philosophy: “do one thing really, really well. We took that idea and put it down with burgers and fries and that’s it.”
Frat Burger can also appeal to a wide variety of tastes, with some minor changes to the traditional burger.

“The Portobello mushroom burger and Quiona burger are popular vegetarian and vegan options. The fries are also vegan,” said Jerry.

“With the burger we just stick to processing every fine detail of it so that we have a perfect burger every time.”

When processing the burger Jerry explained, “We bring in grass-fed beef from Toronto and we double grind it on site and that’s all it is, there’s no filler. We’re the only place in Waterloo region that can offer a medium rare burger because we grind all our meat on site.”

That attention to detail also means a large selection of toppings including havarti cheese, two different kinds of bacon, caramelized onions and a signature Frat Sauce and customers seem to appreciate the quality in selection.

First-time customer Chloe Stanois said, “I would come back just for the guacamole.”

Greg Martin, another customer, was impressed with the choice of beef gravy or mushroom gravy on his poutine, “that’s something I never would have thought of,” he said.

But don’t think Frat Burger’s delicious, quality burgers are going to strain your bank account. Jerry clarified, “Gourmet doesn’t mean expensive. Gourmet means done well.” That’s what sets Frat burger apart from other fast food burger joints. “No one pays attention to quality it’s all mass produced.”

“Anyone that takes a bite of that burger their eyes widen, and it’s like they’ve been awakened from mass production,” Jerry added.

The difference in quality is noticeable. As patron Evan Kinsman put it, “a gourmet burger at Harvey’s is about the same price, and this is way better.”

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