by Ian Froeb
This week I visit Hamburger Mary's (3037 Olive Street; 314-533-6279), the first St. Louis location of a very small national chain that styles itself an "open-minded bar & grill for open-minded people." A sneak preview of my review is after the jump.
If you fail to crack at least one little smile at Hamburger Mary's, you must be having a very bad day indeed. At St. Louis' inaugural outpost of this small national chain, mirror balls, red theater curtains and faux chandeliers made of pearl necklaces hang from the ceiling, and the menu includes double entendres like "Spinny Dipper" (spinach-artichoke dip) and the "Guacamole B.J." burger (bacon and jack cheese). Your bill arrives tucked into a bright red or animal-print stiletto heel. Will the stereo system play Madonna's "Vogue"? It did on four of my five visits.
Hamburger Mary's decribes itself as "an open-minded bar and grille for open-minded people." By its own reckoning, it's the only national restaurant chain to court the LGBT community. A group of friends opened the original Hamburger Mary's in San Francisco in 1972. (There is no literal "Mary"; it refers to an outdated slang term for gay men.) That location has closed, but the chain, jointly owned by franchisees in Chicago and Los Angeles, now boasts twelve locations across seven states. To quote the restaurant's own promotional material, the conceit is a "flamboyant" dining experience. In practice this makes for an exceptionally friendly ambiance no matter your preference -- besides vegan, maybe. (There are salads, at least.)
Visit Gut Check tomorrow to read my review and see Jennifer Silverberg's slideshow of Hamburger Mary's.