River Forest resident Ron Ewert has been a Goldyburgers regular for nearly 20 years. His 14-year-old daughter has been eating their handmade beef patties since she was practically an infant. Ewert sees Goldyburgers as a dying breed, one of the last remaining independent burger joints struggling to compete with places like Fuddrucker's and TGI Friday's.
So when Ewert found out Goldyburgers, 7311 Circle Ave., Forest Park, was nominated by AOL Cityguide (www.aolcityguide.com) as one of the 10 best burger places in the area, he took it upon himself to engage in some traditional "Chicago-style politics [of] trying to stuff the ballot box."
With the aid of e-mail, he's solicited online votes from Stockholm, Sweden all the way to Phoenix, Ariz. And Chicago, of course.
"It's more than just the burgers. It's the burgers plus the friendliness," said Ewert from Phoenix two weekends ago. He was in Arizona for his brother's law school graduation party, and managed to find a few votes for Goldyburgers while he was at it.
For his local friends, Ewert has put his money where his mouth is, saying he'll buy supporters a beer. For first-timers, he's even said he'll buy a burger. Just be sure to vote before the Jan. 3 deadline, he tells everyone.
The difference between a Goldyburgers burger and any other is the beef, according to owner Mike Sullivan?#34;high quality, fresh ground every day, never frozen, always hand packed. The patties are broiled to avoid a greasy taste, and are served on a bun with french fries on the side.
Ewert's favorite is the regular Goldyburger with cheese and grilled onions.
More adventuresome burger buffs go for the Hawaiian, which is topped with pineapple; or the Blue Hawaiian, topped with pineapple, bacon and bleu cheese.
The Royal Burger?#34;bacon and cheese?#34;is a big seller. As is the Big Daddy, a three-quarter-pound burger with mushrooms, cheese and bacon. The Goldymelt, a little off the beaten burger path, comes with grilled onions and Swiss cheese on black bread.
Sullivan also serves up other food?#34;salads, sandwiches, chicken, bratwurst and more. But most people come for the burgers, and have since the place opened in 1926. Sullivan bought the restaurant in 1981.
He thinks his burgers are the best, though he's not sure how representative the online voting process will be. He scans the list of other nominees, places like the Billy Goat Tavern, Twisted Spoke and Come Back Inn.
"There's no way those things are as good as our burgers."