Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Retro Roadtrip Part 3: P.S. Olive Juice

As I was getting dressed and ready to face the day after spending the night at the former Howard Johnson’s, now EconoLodge, I realized I had forgotten to pack deodorant. In order to remedy the situation and stick to the retro businesses only ethos of my trip, I drove 15 miles out of my way to Midland, Michigan so I could buy a stick of Old Spice in the late 1980s:

Seriously, visit a K Mart while you still can. It's like a living museum in there.
After I decided to stick with the 80s theme, and stopped by Burger 81 in Bay City for a late morning olive burger on my way out of town. Burger 81 was once one of two remaining locations in the Michigan-born Hot 'n Now chain. The owners had been planning to drop the dated Hot n Now concept, and a kitchen fire in 2016 afforded them the perfect opportunity to rebrand.

The menu and food is still fairly similar to Hot 'n Now, with the addition of donuts and additional shake flavors. The fries are curious segments of a spiral cut potato, and the infamous burger topped with chopped green olives, a regional delicacy, is still on the menu.

Hot n Now started in Lansing, Michigan and took the upper Midwest by storm in the mid 80s. Most locations were drive through only, allowing franchisees to spend less on real estate and overhead. This also enabled dirt cheap food prices. The chain gained popularity selling burgers, fries, and drinks for 39 cents each. Over the years, the chain changed hands multiple times, even briefly being owned by Pepsico. With each ownership change, locations closed, leaving vacant distinctive tall, angular buildings, (and slightly less common double drive thru buildings) dotting towns all over Michigan. There is precisely one location left still operating as a Hot n Now, located in Sturgis, Michigan. I’ve been there, of course, and am planning to go back so I can buy one of their T-shirts for my collection, but that’s another blog entry.

The number 81 refers to the total number of ingredients used in the kitchen
A well-maintained building, typical of a 1980s vintage Hot 'n Now location, albeit with a new color scheme. 

No comments:

Post a Comment