by David Corrigan, photos and captions by Natham Kam on behalf of Big Island Visitors Bureau
WAIMEA, Hawaii – They are saying “epicurean history” was made on Friday, after a Hilton Head, South Carolina couple sank their teeth into a lamb burger at a Waimea restaurant.
When chef and owner Edwin Goto’s popular Village Burger eatery at the Parker Ranch Center was named one of USA Today’s “51 Great Burger Joints”, it set in motion a series of events that eventually led Joe and Doris Lindner to Hawaii Island, roughly two and a half years later.
The recommendation for Village Burger was penned by Hawai‘i food writer Joan Namkoong, who called it “a locavore’s delight, with a grass-fed, pasture-raised, ground-fresh-daily Big Island beef burger, thick and grilled to order, topped with just-picked, Waimea-grown veggies in a brioche bun from nearby Hawi town.”
The story goes that the Lindners were visiting a daughter in Colorado when the USA Today list was published, so they decided to pay a quick visit to Denver, where the state’s top pick, Park Burger, was located.
We are told it was on their drive home to South Carolina, after they visited three more burger joints on the list, when Joe and Doris made the decision to set out across the country, to eat at all the restaurants on the list.
According to a November 24, 2012 article in the Island Packet, the long road to the Big Island was not entirely paved with success.
“With their newspaper list in tatters,” wrote columnist David Lauderdale, “they managed to get to every place on the list except the Village Burger Kamuela on the Big Island in Hawaii. They finished with the Little Nugget Diner in Reno, Nev., on July 10 of this year. Two places were closed when they got there. The one in Montana is only open half the year, and to enjoy the signature 17-ounce “Hubcap” burger at the funky Cotham’s Mercantile in Scott, Ark., you have to be there between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.”
Five months later, the Lindners’ arrival in Waimea was met with fanfare, with a Hawaiian blessing and proclamations from the offices of Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and State Senator Malama Solomon. The Lindners were joined by their daughters and sons-in-law Karen and Tom Pappas, Laura and Kevin Sankey; and grandchildren, Logan, Nolan, Colton, Teddy and Charlotte for the historic bite.
Kenoi’s representatives even proclaimed April 26 to be “Joe and Doris Lindner Family Day” on Hawaii Island. The celebration was also held in honor of Village Burger’s 3rd anniversary in business.
As for the lamb burger, the public relations folks tell us Joe declared Village Burger to be “the best we ate during our journey hands down. Just amazing!”