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$100 Hamburger Runs: Enjoyable Excursions for the Aviation Crowd

in Aviation Blog, Aviation Stories

$100 cheeseburgerFor all the aeronautical rookies out there, one of the mandatory pilot benefits you must explore is the joy of partaking in $100 hamburger runs. If the concept is new to you, it’s a rite of passage that general aviation (GA) pilots (and their lucky passengers) across the country engage in with considerable enthusiasm.

For all Practical Purposes…

Although GA flying serves several practical purposes, $100 hamburger runs are all about pleasure. Basically, you and some friends hop in a GA plane, fly to another airport, and enjoy a fabulous meal at some unique, one-of-a-kind restaurant. While you could do this by automobile, the benefit of an aircraft is that you’re able to cover a lot more ground, a lot more quickly, and you don’t have to worry about road construction or traffic jams. Additionally, several popular $100 hamburger establishments offer preferential treatment to fly-in customers.

A Word on Price

If you’re wondering about the label, no; you won’t be expected to plunk down a C-note for a Whopper or Quarter Pounder. You’re also free to consume whatever you want (though the more unique, the better). The name instead refers to the cost of the trip: aircraft rental, fuel, landing/parking fees, etc – plus the meal. How far you go, how much you spend, and all other aspects of the trip are entirely up to you.

A Nation of Possibilities

As we Americans are somewhat famous for our love of food, it’s not hard to imagine that this wonderful country of ours offers numerous great $100 hamburger destinations. In fact, John F. Purner even wrote a book entirely on the subject (528 pages! Check out the website, http://www.100dollarhamburger.com/). For suggestions on fine aerial dining near you, just ask around your local airport. If the same establishment keeps coming up, it’s worth a cross country to check it out for yourself.

Setting the Roll Standard

While yours truly has personally enjoyed several awesome $100 hamburger restaurants, my favorite to date is still fairly close to home. It also happens to be the first $100 hamburger place I ever visited.  If you’re in (or need a reason to visit) the Midwest, make it a point to head to Sikeston, Missouri (KSIK) for an experience like no other.

Home of Throwed Rolls

Very early into my private pilot training, I’d heard numerous references to Lambert’s Café (http://www.throwedrolls.com/) in Sikeston, Missouri. A large part of the establishment’s notoriety comes from its unorthodox food delivery method. Lambert’s signature item is its large, oven-fresh yeast roll; which patrons enjoy as a complimentary (and unlimited) side item. However, rather than placing a basket of the delectable goodies on your table, staff members instead walk around the restaurant yelling “Hot rolls!” and toss the rolls through the air to receptive customers (Check out YouTube for a glimpse of the action). It’s a total riot that never gets old.

Southern Charm

In addition to the rolls, Lambert’s treats customers to a variety of other “pass-arounds;” side items delivered with Southern hospitality. Staff members walk around with huge dishes of fried okra, fried potatoes & onions, macaroni & tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and sorghum molasses. There’s no question as to what each dish is; because the wait staff hollers the names of the items they’re toting in a twangy Southern accent. The place is totally redneck (I’ve actually heard Dueling Banjos on the radio while there. True story!), which has endeared it to thousands for more than 70 years.

The Possibilities are Limitless

Not only are customers treated to limitless, complimentary pass-arounds; they also enjoy free refills on all food and beverage choices on the menu. Whether you opt for barbecued ribs, roast beef, pork steak, or the quintessential ($100) hamburger, they’ll bring you a second (third, fourth, etc.) entrée for as long as you’d like. Prices are incredibly reasonable for the amount and variety of food offered.

VIP Treatment

As you might imagine, Lambert’s draws droves of customers from as far as several states away. Visitors are willing to stand in line for hours (often necessary) for a chance to enjoy the experience. The good news? As a pilot, standing in line doesn’t apply; regardless of how many hungry people might be queued up for a table.

When you fly in, Lambert’s gives you the Very Important Pilot treatment. Radio UNICOM when you’re 10 miles out, request the Lambert’s shuttle, and they’ll have a van waiting when you arrive. Following a quick drive to the restaurant, the driver will take you in the back door and secure the next available table for you and your party. On top of that, the shuttle service is complimentary too!

One of Many

As awesome as the whole Lambert’s experience is, it’s just one of several outstanding eateries that make terrific $100 hamburger destinations. Our great nation, along with Purner’s book & website, offers countless culinary adventures for you and your passengers to satiate your palates. Follow up on notable restaurants in your region. I guarantee you’ll leave a favorable impression on first-time fliers, and you’ll never lack for companions willing to share in your aerial escapades.


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