Jun 10

The Union Bar in Gering Nebraska has its own little claim to fame: the Diet Burger.  The Nebraska Beef Council holds a “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest every year.  The Diet Burger was one of  five finalists for this year’s coveted top spot.  Needless to say, it didn’t win, but still… a burger recognized as great in a state where cows are more populous than people has got to be good, right?

A tradition that my boys and I have is to go camping for a night somewhere local to give the wife a night with the house to herself.  We haven’t been able to do this for the last couple of years, but this year we just made it happen.  We planned on camping at a local campground on Friday night, cooking out that night.  Then, our big plan was to go to The Union for lunch the following day to try us one of these Diet Burgers.  I’m a big burger fan and am at a loss for anything other than chain and fast food burgers around these parts.   I haven’t had any burgers locally that have made me say to myself, “Wow, beef really is better in Nebraska.”

At first, my boys were a little hesitant going to a “bar” for lunch, but I had them so psyched up to try one of these burgers that I think it could have been served in an alley on East Overland and they would have been willing to go.  See, the Diet Burger is supposed to be a pound of beef and a pound of bacon mushed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, right?  Sounded like the perfect thing to split with the boys on the one “cheat day” I allow myself away from my stinking diet.

So, the boys and I camp Friday night.  We have a good time.  We do a little geocaching, we play with our new puppy (who joined us on our trip), we ate some campfire stuff, we played us a little UNO, and we talked about how cool eating that Diet Burger was going to be.  The next day, we pack up camp and head to The Union to top-off our adventure.

Now I was especially excited.  I have a lot of people who know me who complain that I never write about anything positive in this here blog.  They say stuff like, “Why can’t you focus on the positive” and “There are lots of good things around here to write about.”  So, I’m excited that I am finally going to be able to write about something in a positive light in the good old panhandle of Nebraska.   I’ve never actually seen one of these Diet Burgers, but I was imagining a monstrosity of meat and cheese just oozing with goodness.  I couldn’t wait to get a picture or two of the behemoth and attach them to my stellar review of the burger.  I haven’t been this excited about much of anything in the panhandle of Nebraska since… well… ever.

The boys and I stroll into The Union and take a small table by the front window.  Our waitress is a cute little blond gal with short shorts and a pleasant smile.  ”What can I get you guys?” she asks.

I don’t even hesitate.  ”We’ll take a Diet Burger,” I say, my mouth already starting to collect drool with which to help the feast of beef and pork that I am soon going to be devouring slide down my gullet.

The waitress got kind of a wrinkly look on her face and said “Oooh,” and I knew my dreams were about to come crashing down around me in small piles that somehow resembled mutilated unicorns.

“We don’t serve those on Saturdays.”

Suddenly, with her face all scrunched up, little blondie with the short shorts wasn’t so cute anymore.

She points to a little list of like 10 bar-food-type appetizer items.  ”This is our Saturday menu.”

“Well…” I start, looking at both of my boys who, like me, are visibly fighting the onslaught of tears on the verge of exploding from their eyes, “… we really wanted the Diet Burger.”

“Sorry,” says blondie.

“Okay,” I said as I started to get up from the table.  ”I guess we’ll go somewhere else.”

The boys and I got up and, stepping around the small piles of blood and unicorn guts, made our way out of The Union.  ”Gering sucks,” I said to the boys as we climbed back into our car.  ”You know, if Gering would merge with Scottsbluff, The stupid Union would serve Diet Burgers on Saturday.”

See, now I will never have a Diet Burger.  The Union pissed me off, and the ability to forgive isn’t my strongest trait.  It is completely within The Union’s rights as a small business in the USA to serve what they want when they want.  Maybe the Saturday lunch crowd (which may not exist… there were like two drunk dudes sitting at the bar — and that’s it — while we were there at right after noon) doesn’t deserve this “famous” local treat.  The Diet Burger is no longer “famous” to me… it’s dead. See, I also have rights… like the right to never set foot in there again.

We drove into Scottsbluff and went to the Original Submarine Sandwich Shop located in Route 66 Mart.  We got some 4″ subs, which are served on Saturdays, and although they weren’t as flavorful as I’m sure the Diet Burger would have been, they were seasoned with the extra saltiness of our tears…

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