March 11, 2003 - "Dearman's Burger Joint"

Forty-five years of good eats, still served in the time-honored "mom and pop" style of the late '50s - That would be Dearman's Burger Joint on Jefferson Highway. These days there's a new owner, but he's keeping the old traditions alive.

Burgers have been coming off the Dearman's grill since 1958. Every day under the watchful eye of current owner Billy Wright, the staff will cook up 350 burgers. But Billy's watchful eye is open well before the patty hits the grill.

At 7:30 every morning Billy is personally grinding the freshest best meat he can get his hands on. And there's no automation or mechanical press in the Dearman kitchen. Each of those 350 patties a day is hand crafted with love and precision.

"We do 300 pounds of French fries a day," says Billy as he points with pride at the woman who operates a huge gadget that transforms whole potatoes into French fries ready for the hot oil. "One reason we have this woman on potatoes is because one of the things she likes most in life is going to the slot machines and playing the slot machines. She's got such a great action with her hand! We always pay off. It always pays off."

Later, sitting at a table in his beloved diner, Billy explains, "I've always loved Dearman's, I've always eaten hamburgers. It has been my favorite food always. Dearman's has always had the best burgers, and I said we have got to take care of this tradition and make sure it continues on."

Billy Wright might be the new owner of Dearman's, but he's definitely not a new face. He worked there when he was a teenager -- with several of the fry cooks and waitresses who still flip the burgers and serve the fries. Dearman's is in Bocage Village at 7633 Jefferson Highway. They are open 7:30am-7:30pm, Monday-Saturday.