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The Quest for Doyle Hamburgs: The Final Chapter?

“In the old days there was also another version of the hamburger in which the ground beef was not made into patties but was instead fried crumbled up like when you make spaghetti sauce. A scoop of crumbled beef was then put into a firm warmed bun, and in Saginaw the restaurant that specialized in these crumble burgers was Doyle's. Doyle's was first located on the north side of the Genesee Street Bridge, but in later years they moved to two other locations and then finally seem to have disappeared. The last time I was in Saginaw they weren't even in the phone book. Too bad. Those hamburgers were one of my Dad's favorite food. He could go without them for a while, but the pressure would build up until he would be forced to say: ‘Hev. Who wants to go for a Doyle's hamburger?’ ‘I do!’. ‘I do.!’


-From Robert Jackson Douglas, Saginaw. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2005


Last week, we reluctantly left the Doyle Hamburg story in the nearby parking lot on the southeast corner of Federal and South Baum. The restaurant was about to relocate for the development of the new Jacobson’s store.


Before construction commenced on Jabcobson’s, the News reported:


“Construction of a Doyle’s Drive-In Hamburg and Root Beer Stand is under way at Jefferson and Tuscola.


Dale Doyle, who will operate the stand, said he has a 10-year lease on the building site, which is 40 x 143 feet. He said the building, to be constructed by Edward Wobig, will be a 22 x 43-foot all-glass structure with slant-in windows.


The layout around the building is being planned for curb service and parking, like the Doyle Drive-In at 404 Federal.


Mr. Doyle said his lease on the Federal location was renewed but declined to say what period the lease covers.


In the new drive-in, Mr. Doyle said, he will have an exclusive franchise to sell Richardson’s Root Beer in Saginaw.” -The Saginaw News, February 23, 1954.


As we haven’t located an image of the new Doyle building at 134 N. Jefferson, this link will take you to images of Jacobson’s in 1955 – the building that replaced Doyle’s Drive-In at Federal and Baum. https://www.castlemuseum.org/jacobsons


In 1965 Doyle Hamburgs expanded and moved from 134 N. Jefferson to 509 Lapeer – it was just around the corner. In 1966 a second downtown location was opened at 114 S. Wahington Avenue. An advertisement described the interior décor in great (and somewhat concerning) detail:


“Today another Improvement has been made. Improve on the Doyle hamburg? Yes, in a way. It has been improved because now there is another new place to eat it. Jack and his son Tom, the third generation, are opening a new Hamburg at 114 S. Washington, across from the Bancroft Hotel. A modern, 100 seat interior, including dusky pecan paneling, acoustical tile, plush carpeting doesn’t make the Doyle hamburg taste any better. It just make’s it easier and more convenient for you to enjoy the quality of three generations – the perfect hamburg. Open tomorrow” -The Saginaw News, April 8, 1966.


The following year, Doyle advertised three locations: 114 S. Washington Avenue, 509 Lapeer and 234 N. Center. Although the early location at 80 W. Genessee continued to appear in City Directories until 1970, directories indicate that it was not managed by a member of the Doyle Family.


In 1970, the 134 S. Washington location was sold and became a Texan Restaurant. About 1975, 509 Lapeer was demolished to make room for the expansion of Michigan National Bank. The final blow to the extensive Doyle Hamburg legacy took place on Friday, September 14, 1984, when the Saginaw News announced:


“The closing of Doyle’s Hamburgs & Pancakes at 124 S. Center Road brings to end 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.”


Epilogue:


If you have been following this story carefully (and we hope you have), you may have noted that a descendant of Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs reappeared briefly in Saginaw, in the form of two Bill Thomas’ Halo Burger Restaurants - one on Fashion Square Boulevard and the other in Birch Run.


You can find our hamburg history over the last several weeks at the following links...we've had great fun researching this rather greasy topic...in fact, it's made us rather hungry...



The Recipe: 5 Doyle-Like Scrambled Hamburgs


This recipe is adapted from the two precious recipes. Although we cannot attest to its accuracy, we find it quite good.

5 Artisan-type hamburger buns (warmed)

1 Pound Ground Round (In one advertisement, John Doyle noted: “. . .5 generous hamburgs to a pound – not a skimpy little pattie.”

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2+ Tablespoons Butter

7+ Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce

1 Small Yellow Onion finely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Condiments: ketchup, mustard, and pickles


Preparation:


In a large frying pan* heat oil and butter; when hot, add onion. Saute lightly, but do not brown. Add hamburger and use a spatula to move the mixture constantly around the pan. Also, use the spatula to cut the meat into smaller pieces.**




While cooking, add Worcestershire Sauce and salt and pepper. When meat is browned – but not overcooked, drain. Place on heated hamburger buns.

Serve immediately.


As desired, diners may dress with ketchup, mustard and pickles.

.

*The frying pan needs to be large enough to ensure that, as the cooking progresses, each morsel of meat comes in contact with the heated frying pan and browns properly. An adequate cooking surface is imperative. If you use too small of a pan, you will simply have a pan of steamed ground beef. It will be memorable for the wrong reasons.


**Although the CTK is not equipped with one, several online vendors market a “meat masher” to use when cooking ground meat. A relative of a member of the CTK team highly recommends using one when preparing this dish.



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