Schoop’s Hamburgers – Bourbonnais, IL
I finally joined my generation and got a smart phone. I’ve been putting it off for a while, but I get so frustrated when I go somewhere with my iPod Touch if I can’t find Wi-Fi that I decided to upgrade. I’ve been on the same cell phone plan since I was in high school and I don’t want to give up my number, so I’m still on my parents plan, so I’m very careful about overcharges because she doesn’t always tell me and just ends up paying then I feel bad.
J and I were back home for a few days and we got up early to take my dad to the nearest AT&T store which is in Bradley, IL. I went in expecting to buy the Motorola Backflip, but was talked in to the HTC Aria which I really like. This isn’t a tech blog, so I won’t bore you.
After completing that transaction, we needed food. There’s a hamburger joint not too far away from where we were that I’ve been wanting to try for a while, so I made the decision without really consulting anyone else.
Schoop’s Hamburger is a Northern Indiana based chain of retro hamburger stands with 19 stores. The original store was opened in Hammond, IN in 1949. The store in Bourbonnais is on Main Street right across the street from Olivet Nazarene University and has been open about a year. The franchisees are two guys that own the Boz Hotdogs in the area which have been around forever. The actual building is the old Busse & Reick flower shop that was redesigned by a Schoop’s architect to fit the 50’s theme.
Getting in to the building is odd. You either have to turn before or after depending on which direction you’re coming from. The parking lot access from Main Street is only supposed to be an exit. You need to turn on to Coyne Street and enter the parking lot from there. I didn’t know that and turned in off of Main Street. Luckily we were pretty early and no one was trying to leave.
Neither my dad or I had been in a Schoop’s before. J said the place looked very familiar and eventually figured out that there is a location in Orland Park and she ate there all the time when she worked at Orland Square Mall in high school.
I assumed it was a fast food place, but I assumed wrong. It’s actually a full service, sit down restaurant. There are three dining rooms with the dining room right inside the door being the one we chose. This space also has the lunch counter which is always an option when dining alone or the place is full.
We took a seat at a table in the front dining room and a waitress followed us over with menus. She asked about drinks and my dad ordered a Mt. Dew. I thought this was a little odd because there is a big Coca Cola mural painted on the outside of the building. I looked up and saw there were fountain machines for both Coke and Pepsi. I followed suit and got a Pepsi. J got a Diet Pepsi.
The menu focuses on Hamburgers but also has other sandwiches, soups, chili, and ice cream. I was all about the hamburgers. I’ve actually heard they had been voted number one on several “Best of…” lists, so I was excited to try one. I went with the Special Cheeseburger. That sandwich is two thin ground beef patties that are sizzled on a flat top grill and topped with one slice of American cheese and served on a toasted bun. The burgers were delicious. One of the things that Schoop’s is famous for is the crunchy bits around the edge of the burger from the grilling process. They flatten the burger down and it sort of dries out the edge of the burger. Sounds gross, but really good and what keeps the people coming back to Schoop’s. The difference between the “Special” burger and “Double Cheeseburger” is the one slice of cheese instead of two. The bun was a pretty standard white bun that you can get from any food service place. The burger does not come with any sort of side, so I added on fries. Again, fries were pretty standard restaurant fries.
J ordered the Grilled Cheese basket which is a lunch special. Pretty simple sandwich with American cheese melted between two slices of white bread. She said it was delicious. My dad mentioned it’s pretty hard to screw up grilled cheese which is somewhat right about. J has had a couple bad grilled cheeses. This was not one of them. Her basket actually did come fries which were the same as mine.
My dad went with the Patty Melt. Like my sandwich, his did not come with fries so he added them on. His sandwich, which is served on grilled bread instead of a bun took up the whole plastic tray so they brought out a second one with the fries. He ended up getting a lot more than either J or I did and couldn’t finish them.
About halfway through our meal, our waitress left the check on the table since you pay at a cash register near the door. I looked at it and thought $25 for the three of us was a pretty good price. My dad thought it was expensive and when I told my brother about it later, he said the same thing. I’m really happy if J and I eat for $20 at a sit down place, so the three of us getting by for $25 seemed like a deal. My family usually eats fast food though and Schoop’s is more expensive than that if that is what your comparison is going to be. The fact that the sandwiches don’t come with fries does drive the price up and if J hadn’t ordered a lunch special, our meal would have been closer to $30.
I was really happy with our lunch. The burgers were great. It’s not the greatest burger ever, but it’s one of those craveable places. Their burgers are just different enough that if you grew up with them, you’d be hunting one down whenever you were nearby. It’s kind of like a Chik-Fil-A. It’s just special enough that you’d go out of your way for it if you were used to having it. Otherwise, you kind of look in from the outside and say, it’s delicious, but I don’t get the craze.