After All These Years
Milo Carlton honed his burger craft as a mess cook in the U.S. Army and opened his first burger shop in 1946. He spent the first summer testing and perfecting the secret sauce still in service to this very day. Most folks say it is simply a coincidence – but still a verifiable fact – the CIA was founded that very same year. Just saying.
Milo’s Burger Shop, an unassuming cinder block afterthought wedged into the industrial heart of Birmingham’s northside, soon had a lot of folks asking, “What is the secret to his unique sauce?” The answer might surprise you. It was listening. See, Milo was not a real talkative fellow. He liked making burgers and making people smile.
Milo believed in the integrity of hard work, giving people a little something extra, and having the courage to follow what his customers said instead of what other businesses were doing.
So, every day, Milo would tinker with the sauce. “Too spicy,” some would say. “Too sweet,” another week. The shop was small. Milo could work the grill and serve the bar while sending boxes of burgers out the window to-go to the long, winding line of steel workers that wrapped the building. The shop’s most loyal fans began coming in earlier and earlier to grab a stool near the grill so they could weigh-in on the sauce’s evolution.
Milo knew then what we still know now – don’t worry about everyone: be you, and be special to those who love you most – the rest will take care of itself.
When “too much this and too much that” resolved into genuine “mmmmms” and “oh yeahs,” he stopped tinkering. The sauce was set. And it has not changed since. So, whose secret is our secret sauce? Really, it belongs to our customers.
To thank them for what they gave to him, Milo always cut up extra patties and put an extra piece of meat on top of his saucy burgers. We don’t have a fancy name for it. We call it (cleverly) “The Little Something Extra.” Since 1946, it has served as a symbol of appreciation for our guests, and of respect for the hard work and extra effort of those who made their living in Birmingham’s steel industry.
The passion of those early guests spread. The little burger shop couldn’t keep up. So, we did what we do. We listened to our guests again, and opened more shops. Today there are eighteen. Maybe more soon!