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Leaving Only Flavor and Protein: Doyle Hamburgs

The Castle Test Kitchen leaves no bun unflipped, no hamburg unscrambled in the pursuit of Saginaw's complex burger history. Be sure to read the our previous installment on Dale Doyle's beginnings.

Doyle Hamburgs on the Bank of the Saginaw River

“The closing of Doyle’s Hamburgs & Pancakes at 234 S. Center Road brings an end to an era of ‘scrambled hamburgers’ that got its start in 1927 in downtown Saginaw. John R. Doyle has retired and has sold his Saginaw Township restaurant to Richard Lagalo of Saginaw, also a veteran of the restaurant business, who will open Monday, Sept. 24, as Rich’s Tony.” The Saginaw News, September 14, 1984

Fittingly, we continue – not end - our exploration of Doyle Hamburgs on the 39th anniversary of the closing of Doyle’s Hamburgs and Pancakes.

The first advertisement we have found for Dale D. Doyle’s post-Kewpee Hotel restaurant was published on August 7, 1939. Simple and direct, it states “Doyle Hamburgs, 80 W. Genesee at foot of Bridge, Plenty of Parking Space.” In the 1940 city directory, the business is simply listed as Dale Doyle, Restaurant.

Housed in a small structure located on the bank of the river, those who remember it fondly describe the view of the river and downtown from the windows of its dining area. While there is no written documentation of the menu – other than the inclusion of hamburg in its name, anecdotal evidence suggests the centerpiece of the eatery’s menu was the famed scrambled hamburger. Robust advertising suggests a thriving business. However, after a few years it seems Dale Doyle was ready to move on.

On February 26, 1947, the Saginaw News reported:

“Doyle Hamburgs sold to Jules Pockrand After Seven Year Run, Operation of Doyle Hamburgs restaurant, west end of Genesee bridge, was taken over Tuesday by its new owner, Jules Pockrandt, Saginaw band leader.”

Advertising that he was “serving the Same Delicious Doyle Hamburg,” Pockandt operated the restaurant for several years. Eventually, it was acquired by members of the Cross family who owned Cross Typewriter repair. However, this was not the end of the restaurant. While it does not appear to have been operated at this location by members of the Doyle family, it continued to be advertised as Doyle Hamburgs until 1970. However, we have not been able to document if scrambled hamburgers continued to be served at 80 W. Genesee.

Along with the change of ownership, the newspaper announced that:

“The sale ended seven years operation by Dale D. Doyle, 238 Goetz, founder of the business, and his son Jack, Manager. Doyle will keep his Saginaw home. The father and son will operate the Conway Inn, near Bay View, and winter hotel in Arizona. No change in name or type of business is planned by Pockrandt, he said.” The Saginaw News, February 26, 1947

However, this would not be the end of the Doyle family’s operation of restaurants in downtown Saginaw or the end of their famous scrambled hamburgs.

Next week we will move to the southeast corner of Federal Avenue and Baum Street and explore the next chapter of the Doyle Hamburg Story.

And – of course – we will continue our quest for accurately recreating a Doyle scrambled hamburger.

Evoking the Doyle Scrambled Hamburger

The mother of a member of the Castle Test Kitchen Staff had fond memories of eating at Doyle Hamburgs. Although she never claimed or suggested her version was based on the actual recipe, this simple preparation was her take on a sandwich that she once so enjoyed. When she served it, she would often reminisce about attending St. Andrews High School with members the Doyle family. And other times - it was served much more prosaically and prepared because it could be assembled quickly.

Ingredients for 4 -6 Pseudo-Doyle Scrambled Hamburgs

1 pound freshly ground lean beef

1 small yellow onion, chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

small quantity of flavorless cooking oil

4- 6 hamburger buns

Ketchup and mustard

Process: Preheat oiled pan. Lightly sauté onions, do not brown. Add ground beef and salt and pepper. Stir constantly, being careful to break all clumps of meat. Brown but do not overcook. Drain off any grease – leaving only flavor and protein. Divide into four to six portions and serve promptly. Ketchup and mustard are to be added by the diner.

Test Kitchen Comments: This is by far the simplest and most direct of any of the preparations we have discovered. The addition of onions may or may not be accurate. However, at least for one person, this evoked a memory of a sandwich once widely enjoyed in Saginaw and reminded her of eating in a small restaurant on the banks of the Saginaw River. Patti Evans, a longtime museum member, remembers that condiment options included mustard, ketchup, and pickles. However, mustard was by far the favorite topping for Doyle’s Scrambled Hamburger


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