Everyone’s heard about the glorious burger challenge hosted by McGuire Moorman Hospitality during August. Though it conflicts with the reality that we’ll still be wearing bathing suits for months and it’s so hot you’re pretty sure that eating hot food is some form of  Guantanamo-esque punishment – it’s a damn genius marketing scheme on its merits.


Kudos MMH for making thousands of Austinites buck all logic and gorge on burgers (granted, my waistline appreciates it less than my business intellect). You’re getting traffic through the doors during what is traditionally a slow month. The rules are: eat six burgers at six McGuire Moorman establishments (Jeffrey’s, Lambert’s, Clark’s, Perla’s, Josephine House and Elizabeth Street Café) to earn respective rewards for volume and time. *To-go burgers not eligible.*


Burger lover’s dream right? Not so fast dreamers…it appears MMH is channeling their inner six-year-old and changing the rules mid-game. Remember that scene in Big Daddy when ‘Frankenstein’ is playing Go Fish? Went something like this….


Julian: “I got a six, a five, a jack, a four and an eight. I win.”

Sonny: “What do you mean you win? I had a hand just like that before I didn’t win.”

Nazo: “This is Bullshit…This is bullshit! Should have same rules for everyone.”


MMH has suddenly pulled a Julian. They announced via Instagram this afternoon that due to a happy hour “crush,” they are changing the playing field for eaters who rise to the #MMHBurgerChallenge. Here-to-fore challengers will no longer earn a stamp for their burger unless it is paid at full price during happy hour.


As a mid-challenge patron (who has received stamps for HH price burgers), bear with me as I soap box…


Point 1  

The original rules DO NOT mention happy hour, period. Nor do they state or imply that the rules are really suggestions since, evidently, they are subject to change (also not mentioned). Basic logic dictates that I should be able to eat a happy hour burger (which I do frequently outside of the challenge) and receive a stamp. Logic also follows that each participant who has earned a stamp prior to today’s date should be able to operate under the rules we understood and accepted. It’s unfair, and unethical in the rules arena, to the brave souls who’ve been trudging through six pounds of red meat in seven days. I agreed to abide by the rules; you didn’t specify that you are the master of the universe who pulls out the rug when it suits you. I choose not to abide if you can’t. While breach of contract might be a bit of a stretch, surely this falls somewhere in the promissory estoppel land. Seriously guys, this isn’t the kindergarten playground – honor the original agreement.


Point 2

These burgers ain’t cheap. Only three – Lambert’s, Jeffrey’s and Clark’s – offer a HH option. The discounted prices range from $8 to $12. Ok, I can live with that. Regular prices range from $16 – $24. It’s un-American to charge $24 for a HAMBURGER – I refuse on principle. Personally, I was pretty peeved to pay $18 for an abysmal Perla’s burger (a term that is nicer than the meal deserved). I felt like I had been burger-slapped. Full disclosure: had the burger been better, I still would have cared about the cost – but I’m a writer, not the normal east-or-west-coast-comes-to-Austin-for the-cool-zip-code MMH clientele.

I’m not from NYC, I’m from Austin – did we forget where we are living? I almost quit the challenge then and there, but I knew Perla’s was the lessor of the six going in. Future burgers would be better. (I was right too, Elizabeth Street does a bang up job – I hope that they keep it available upon challenge conclusion). My question is: Are you really losing so much money with the challenge that you must renege on your burger honor and fail to reward eaters of overpriced HH burgers with the now stipulation-racked stamp? A spade’s a spade – I ate it didn’t I? I operated by the rules that were applicable when I started the challenge, why are you changing the rules mid-game? This isn’t an MTV Challenge. Did I clog my arteries for this?


Point 3

Come on @MMHaustin, if there’s backlog in the kitchen, tell diners that – God forbid – they might wait slightly longer to receive their order. It isn’t like the number of seats in the place changed; if you are able to continue burger service during HH, there is no [valid] reason that challengers should be slighted. It’s burger discrimination! (Okay, discrimination might be harsh, but it is unsavory vendor etiquette.) Don’t change the rules just because your marketing gimmick worked. We were all doing our parts and it isn’t our fault that you can’t handle your own challenge.


Point 4

So as not to appear like I am beating the MMH gang up in general, it should be mentioned that I love Clark’s. I’m there bi-weekly and have enjoyed many a happy hour burger. It’s one of my favorite places in town. Indeed, I received my first stamp at Clark’s during happy hour on Tuesday afternoon. I also adore Elizabeth Street Café and the patio at Josephine House. I love the bartenders at Jeffrey’s – I think they are wonderful. I adore the aforementioned so much that I overlook the dramatically inflated prices. After this insult, I don’t know that I will continue to in the future. Shame, Clark’s is among the top three burgers in town.


In sum, cows across the world just cried moo-fully at this injustice. Can’t we all just play by the rules?


Dismount soap box…sorry, not sorry.


*MMH was not sought for comment for this editorial piece.