A Martinez restaurant's challenge isn't for the faint of heart – or the small appetite.
At least two or three people take on the Triple Burger Challenge at Embers Grille every day, according to owner Danny Durham.
“Tell my wife and kids I love them,” first-timer Jay Brown said with finality before tackling his plate full of food Wednesday.
The challenge consists of three 6-ounce handmade hamburger patties on a bun with a choice of trimmings, a large order of hand-cut fries and 32-ounce drink to be consumed in one hour. Although there’s no Travel Channel TV camera around, Embers posts pictures on its “wall of fame” of those who accomplish the feat.
“Customers love getting their pictures on the wall of fame and bragging rights to their friends,” Durham said. “Each picture on the wall tells its own story.”
A glance at the wall reveals one man’s story is repeated often. T.J. Kelly said he’s been eating the challenge meal for a while. Kelly said he used to work at a paint and body shop across the street from Embers, which is on Baston Road, and he would walk to the restaurant for lunch.
“Needless to say, I walked back full,” he said. “My dad raised me to eat everything on my plate. So that’s what’s happening.”
To conquer the challenge, Kelly recommends taking “big bites, chomp it down, and don’t drink a lot while you’re eating.”
There is no strategy for Mitchell Moon, who has done the challenge three times. Moon brought several co-workers from Freightliner of Augusta with him this week to take on the challenge.
“I laughed when he told me. I thought it’s death right around the corner, a heart attack waiting to happen for sure,” Jesse Callaway said.
Across the table, co-worker Jack Luke shrugged his shoulders at Callaway’s statement.
“I just like to eat, and he said it’s the best burger in town down here,” Luke said, nodding toward Moon.
Rob Milhous thought the fries would be the hardest part of the challenge, until he tasted them. Another newcomer to the restaurant, Milhous said he didn’t even know about the challenge until he walked in and saw the big picture of the triple burger in front of the cash register.
“I said, ‘I have to try that,’ ” he said.
Amid all the men with big appetites in the restaurant sat one petite woman in a business suit, taking on the same big eating challenge. Renee deMedicis, the owner of radio station WNRR, said the hardest problem was fitting the piled-high burger in her mouth without dripping ketchup into her lap.
“I’ve always been a big eater,” she explained. “I can eat eight pancakes – one of those kind of girls. Some people pick all through the day. I’d rather eat one big meal and be done with it.”
Durham acknowledges that he’s heard of restaurants in other cities with bigger burgers in their challenges. He said the triple burger will remain as is to keep the price economical – the entire meal is $9.99.
Customers can always add additional patties for a slight extra charge.