If you were a careful observer of last week’s hamburg advertising, you probably noticed a familiar name on the Saginaw Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs ads—Dale D. Doyle.
Dale Damien Doyle was born and raised in Saginaw County, starting out in the far western reaches of the county, Merrill, on April 7, 1898. Though young Dale would go on to his own food fame (and we’ll get to that in a moment), his parents also came from a food background of sorts, their families owning and operating the Campau & Doyle ice cream and confectionary shop at the corner of Gratiot and Michigan Avenues in West Saginaw.
In the summer of 1897, Joseph Dale “Dad” Doyle married Ada Campau, his business partner’s daughter. Together, they had one son, Dale, in 1898, with Joseph passing suddenly just over a year later in May of 1899 from spinal meningitis. Prior to this, Joseph had moved his young bride to the Merrill area, his hometown, in order to start Doyle Stock and Implement company. The company, which was taken over by Ada’s brother-in-law, Horace Johnson of Hemlock, after her husband’s untimely passing, was located along M-46 just west of Merrill Road, in today’s Siler Precision Machine building. The “Johnson & Son” sign mark can still be seen on the building today.
Based on US Census records, Ada and her son, Dale, moved back to Saginaw and in with her parents until Ada eventually remarried August Taub, a carpenter and home builder, in 1907.
In 1920, Dale married Margaret Quinnan in Saginaw. At the time of this marriage, Dale is listed as an auto mechanic. Just a few years later, however, he would find his place in Saginaw’s hamburg history.
Doyle’s Delicious Past
In 1923, Doyle began work at luncheon and refreshment places--this is most likely the Saginaw Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs locations. Interestingly, by 1930, the US Census notes that Doyle is a “manager at hotel” and his wife a hotel clerk. However, the Kewpee “Hotel” was Doyle’s only position during this time, and by 1940 the government listed him, more appropriately, as a restaurant manager.
During this interim period where Doyle appeared, on paper, to take a journey from hotels to hamburgs, he was actually serving duel roles as both a restaurant manager and owner of the Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs franchise in Saginaw, and a State Senator from 1935-1936 (D). On later Kewpee advertising, Doyle is listed as proprietor, so one could safely assume that he did not abandon his restaurant business during his short stint in the Michigan state legislature. Instead, he presumably left his business in the competent hands of employees and his wife when he was not in town.
So, what happened to Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs in Saginaw? If we follow Dale Doyle’s journey, we find that the Saginaw City Directory from 1934 lists Doyle as manager of the Kewpee Hotel, but by 1936, the directory lists no Kewpees and has Doyle being a Senator and salesman for Consolidated Coal Company. If readers remember from last week, The Tasty Hamburg Shop was holding its grand opening in 1936 at the former location of the Kewpee Hotel on 209 North Jefferson. It is possible that all the Saginaw Kewpees were closed at about the same time, the mid-1930s.
What we do know is that sometime around this same time period, Doyle was reinventing his hamburg empire, creating Doyle Hamburgs in Kewpee’s absence. An article from the Saginaw News upon Doyle’s death in 1972 notes, “Doyle was the founder (1927) of the Doyle’s Hamburg Restaurants.” This date would align with his earlier role in the Kewpee franchise, but Doyle’s Hamburgs actually came later, during this mid-1930s transition period.
We could ruminate over the mysterious details of the Kewpee decline in Saginaw for much longer, but we’ll cut to the chase. Doyle’s obituary claims, “From 1927 until 1964 he owned and operated the Doyle Hamburgs.” During the beginning part of this time, Doyle operated from Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs. Just when the transition occurred was sometime during the mid-thirties when Doyle was exploring his role in politics and creating his own hamburg chain in Saginaw. Coincidentally, later advertisements mention that his son, Jack Doyle, joined the hamburg dynasty in 1939, so this would suggest that at that time, it became a family affair separate from its Kewpee past.
While there is so much more to say about the Doyle Hamburg locations—and we will, next week. We will leave you with one last thought, scrambled hamburgs. This is the Doyle legacy— flavor and protein.
The Recipe: The Loose Meat Sandwich
Doyle locations were known for their "scrambled hamburgs," allegedly a brainchild of Dale Doyle himself. Though we haven't located the exact recipe, we have a few contenders. This week, we are trying out an online version from Fox Valley Foodie to dip our toe into the world of loose meat.
Ground Beef - Fattier beef, like ground chuck, will carry more flavor but you can use lean ground beef if you want to save on calories.
Butter - You can substitute olive oil or even bacon grease.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Brown Sugar HOW TO MAKE IT Making your own Loose Meat Sandwiches is incredibly simple and doesn't require much time. Brown ground beef in a large skillet, or saute pan, often with a little extra fat to assist with the browning, then the fat is drained, and onions and seasonings are added. If you want the extra richness of the fat, you are welcome to keep it in the skillet, but draining it is certainly healthier and still flavorful. I enhance the rich flavor of the beef by adding Worcestershire sauce and beef broth, plus a touch of sweetness and tang from brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Though initially soupy, simply continue cooking the beef mixture until all of the liquid has evaporated. The flavor will soak into the beef.
Once the ground beef mixture has thickened up it is ready to serve. Pile meat on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. Pickles and mustard are the traditional choices, but if you are looking to be unconventional add some Cheddar cheese or hot sauce.
Test Kitchen staff found that there wasn't any draining of the meat required after cooking down the mixture until it was dry (although this took a considerable time). Surprisingly, we don't know where the beef fat and butter went!
Feel free to serve the sandwich with sides of your choice. We, of course, chose beans.