By Kristin Bednarski
Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries held a week long grand opening celebration March 9-16.
The grand opening included a ribbon cutting ceremony, giveaways, specials and a “Big A Challenge” at the end of the week.
Hwy 55 is a casual, sit-down restaurant that resembles a 1950s diner that opened Jan. 26 at the Jungle Jim’s shopping center in Eastgate.
Ken Rubin, one of the owners, said wanted to have a week long grand opening, and the restaurant had a variety of activities and specials throughout the week.
Rubin co-owns the restaurant with Tom Hartzell, and it is the first restaurant of its kind in Ohio.
The restaurant originated in 1991 as Andy’s Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers in Goldsboro, North Carolina. The name changed to Hwy 55, and the business grew to more than 100 locations in North Carolina.
Rubin said he and Hartzell are already planning to open more locations in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Rubin said he is pleased with how the first location is doing.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the restaurant was held March 9. And during the first day of the grand opening, the first 50 people received free hamburgers for a year.
“That was really the most exciting thing,” Rubin said. “We didn’t know what to expect. We did have one family that camped out the night before.”
Another entertaining activity they had during the week, was the “Big A Challenge.”
The challenge is listed on the restaurant’s menu at a cost of $24.
“In order not to pay, they must complete everything in less than 30 minutes,” Rubin said about the challenge.
‘Everything,’ included almost almost 50 ounces of meat in the form of patties on a bun, with four trimmings, fries and a drink.
Rubin said the national record for the competition is three minutes and two seconds.
Three individuals attempted the “Big A Challenge” during the grand opening March 15 including Joe Murrell, of Williamsburg, Paul Scarlatella, of Eastgate and Joey “Taz” Henschen, of Cincinnati.
Murrell holds the Ohio record of 13 minutes for completing the challenge. Scarlatella had attempted the challenge before, but never completed it, and Henschen attempted it for the first time at the event March 15.
“I just wanted to try it,” Henschen said. “I’ve done some food competitions before.”
Hwy 55 employees prepared three enormous burgers for the competitors and started the clock for the competition.
By the time 12 minutes had elapsed, Murrell had finished the meal and had beaten his previous time, defending his title as the Ohio champion.
Henschen also completed the challenge just under the required time limit.
All of the competitors received T-shirts and Murrell received a $100 gift card to the restaurant for winning the competition.
Rubin said the grand opening week went better than they expected.
“It was great,” Rubin said.
For more information about Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries visit www.hwy55burgers.com.