Street cred is a hard commodity to come by, and when the tastemakers of today bestow their blessings on any one particular business, attention must be paid.
And so it is with Fatburger. Starting out as a mom and pop shop in Los Angeles, the franchise has enjoyed more intimate ties to the entertainment industry than most fast food chains. In the late 1990s, a fund connected to Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, had taken over Fatburger with expansion plans in mind. Magic Johnson’s group later took these plans to fruition, with a consortium of investors that included the likes of Montel Williams, Queen Latifah and Darren Star (of Sex and the City fame). Though Johnson’s investment group left the management side of Fatburger in the mid 2000s, giving way to Portland asset management group Fog Cutter Capital, a plethora of other hip hop celebrities bought in, with two of the Roots opening up in the Illadelph, and E-40 sticking to the West. Pharell partnered up with Fogcutter in the late 2000s to bring the chain to China, with locations opening up in Macau, Hong Kong and Beijing. Though Fog Cutter has gone through rough times as of late, having filed Chapter 11 for its California and Nevada locations, Yeezy still bought ten locations for Chi-City, another detail in the grand web of intrigue surrounding his dark twisted fantasy.
All that said, Versace sofas this is not.
There’s not much that can be said about Fatburger that wouldn’t be obvious. If there once was a mom n’ pop charm to the original location, that had necessarily disappeared with its conversion to a franchised chain, and there’s no sense in pretending that it hadn’t or chastising it for doing so. It’s a fast food restaurant with a plastic furniture, plastic cutlery, plastic everything, as it should be.
There’s five different sizes of the burger, each with a uniform set of toppings though cheese is included towards the larger end of the spectrum (assumedly because one has already thrown caution to the wind for fat content at that point). An Original Fatburger ($6.49) sits right smack dab in the middle, both in size and within the general genre of fast food burgers. It’s both too dry and too salty, served on a bun that seems otherworldly, tasting of nothing but caloric values. The classic grilled chicken ($6.99) is largely the same, with the main – sole – difference being the colour of protein. The sides are often a saving grace at fast food chains, but at Fatburger neither the fries ($2.79) nor the onion rings ($3.79) are quite fried enough to be crispy. Altogether, there's little to the meal that’s as fascinating as the Fatburger story as a whole.
Nor should there be. It’s fast food, and there’s little assumption that it should be more nor does the chain aspire to be. After a good day, Fatburger’s there to grab at two in the morning. And sometimes that’s all that one should ask for.
(Numerous locations, including 111 Dunsmuir Street in Vancouver)