When Scotty’s Brewhouse launched their new menu about a month ago, the first thing that diner Wade Duncan noticed was the $10 price hike on their Big Ass Burger. His question was not without merit; before the menu changed, the one pound, four-patty burger was at $15.
“My main concern was that they increased the price without changing anything to the burger. $25 is a little steep,” Duncan explained. That’s why when he decided to give the newly-priced Big Ass Burger a try, what he got was not the usual stack of four, quarter-pound burger. He got what he described as “two burgers stacked on top of each other” instead.
Scotty’s Brewhouse owner Scott Wise explained this sudden change of format.
“I wanted to make a burger challenge that not everybody could finish. The previous one was too easy,” Wise explained.
He likened the burger’s previous iteration to a Big Mac. “Everybody could down a Big Mac.”
Before the introduction of the Big Ass Burger ten years ago, Wise wanted something for his customers to remember his restaurant for. After picking up tips from a few restaurant marketing books, he decided to create something large and give it a politically incorrect name.
The first version of the Big Ass Burger featured a custom-made bun that was wide enough to contain a large two-pound patty and it was priced at $36. Wise also initially paired up this offering with the prospect of winning a free T-shirt, though after finding out that diners were still trying the challenge even without the freebie, he did away with the prize.
“One day, we ran out of our stock of T-shirts to give away, but I noticed that people were still doing the challenge. I think most of them wanted to try it just to see whether they could really finish it or not. The shirt was just an extra incentive.”
Wise added that during conventions such as GenCon, his downtown Brewhouse sees an increase of Big Ass attempts. “I think it’s a gamer’s thing.”
Despite the popularity of the gargantuan burger with his diners, Wise’s kitchen staff was not too happy with it. Because everything is cooked to order, having to cook a large patty weighing two pounds took a long time. This meant that people ordering the big burger simultaneously took up considerable space on the grill, holding up space for other smaller orders.
The giant burger was eventually revamped after enjoying years of popularity. The Big Ass’ second iteration was a far-cry from its predecessor in terms of size and presentation, as well as price. Diners still loved the burger as they continued to order the item. Wise, on the other hand, noticed that more and more diners were finishing the burger.
Eventually, his menu creation team came up with an idea: stack two burgers on top of each other. Wise liked the idea and gave the menu team the go-ahead to implement the changes. The same cheese-capped patties are now thicker and are separated into groups of two with a bun on the middle. Wise estimated that the burger’s height was around eight inches thick.
“I realize that not everybody is going to pay $25 for a burger, so I wanted to make sure that it was worth it,” Wise explained.
As Wade Duncan struggled to finish off the towering burger, he was asked whether he thought the price tag was worth it.
“Oh yeah, definitely. For something of that size and quality, yes.”