Jubilee Burgers, the longtime Lincoln neighborhood burger joint known for its unfussy burgers and a bright orange vintage sign, has a new owner.
First, a little history.
The burger restaurant seemed doomed when it closed unexpectedly in 2012. It sat dormant until 2014, when Jason Maggard opened a frozen yogurt and coffee shop called Amp in its spot. Finding that concept wasn’t a great fit for the neighborhood, he transitioned Jubilee Burgers back to its original name and mission of burgers and fries earlier this year.
The distinctive orange sign, however, never left its perch above the Lincoln neighborhood.
Less than a month ago, local business owner Mitchell Shook bought Jubilee Burgers.
“For me, it’s a labor of love,” said Shook, who has a résumé in food service. He’s worked with fast food and doughnuts franchises and has operated a fleet of popcorn carts. He also owns the internet service provider Advanced Stream.
Shook said he wanted to retain the restaurant’s legacy in a neighborhood that has gone to great lengths to support it. He said neighborhood allegiance is on display with the stories longtime customers have shared with him. (Those stories are relayed in a collection of short video clips he’s posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page.)
He’s made few changes, such as refining the burger sauce recipe (it now comes with a bit more tang and mild spiciness).
Expect to see even more reconfiguring of the menu and the dropping of an item or two.
Here’s a first-bite look of the restaurant under its new ownership. It’s this newspaper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service during a new restaurant’s first month of business.
The basic menu: Hamburger and cheeseburger ($2.75-$3.25), crinkle-cut fries ($2), breaded onion rings ($3), hot dog ($1.75) and shakes ($3-$5). Ice cream cones are a buck.
Specialty burgers: Find a menu of third-pound burgers, priced $5-$7, including the regionally famous Smitty burger (an oblong burger on a hoagie), a blue cheese burger, a mushroom Swiss, barbecue bacon and chicken burgers.
The basic cheeseburger: A fresh Angus chuck patty with sizzled edges, gooey cheese, a swipe of a tangy burger sauce (with a hint of peppery heat) on a toasted bun from Franz. Grilled onions, a thick slice of tomato and triple-layered leaf iceberg added crunch.
The Smitty ($7) on the specialty burger menu (those come with third-pound patties) was equally well dressed with crisp veggies, plus the addition of cheddar in lieu of American, and the oblong patty and hoagie bun that are the hallmarks of Pierce County’s most famous burger.
It’s in the details: I appreciated the double wrap of the to-go burgers, yielding extra portability and heat retention.
Fries and rings: Crinkle-cut fries with a heavy shake of what tasted like Johnny’s seasoning. Onion rings carried a crunchy breading.
Bargain shoppers: Get the cheeseburger, a small order of fries and a drink combo for $7.
Atmosphere: Order at the counter, find your own seat in the dining room outfitted with booths and high-top tables with stools.
Service: Fast, attentive and friendly.
Where: 858 S. 38th St., Tacoma; 253-548-8600 or facebook.com/jubileeburger.